Next, Nuxt, Nest: Choosing the right Node.js framework

Vention
7 min readJan 8, 2021
Next, Nuxt, Nest: Choosing the right Node.js framework

Why it’s so easy to mix up these three — and why it’s so important that you don’t

It sure would seem that programmer humor extends to their naming preferences.

But contrary to how similar they sound, Next, Nuxt, and Nest frameworks do have some differences. Some trivial, some glaring — which is why researching them can cause massive head-scratching among novices and veterans alike.

Of course, their disparities are made clear the very moment any one of them is considered for a JavaScript-related project. To save you on time, confusion, and unnecessary costs, we’ve decided to shed some much-needed light on all three.

But instead of comparing them as articles usually do, let’s run a who-is-who to explain why these networks actually can’t be compared — and solve the issue once and for all.

NEXT: A React-based productivity booster

NEXT: A React-based productivity booster

Next.js is an open-source React framework created by the developer company Vercel with a focus on efficiency and production.

Because React, being a JavaScript library, usually renders web applications client-side, it poses issues to users unable or unwilling to use JavaScript. Next bypasses this by making back-end rendering possible, sending it partially or totally ready to the client.

Next eases up project kickoffs with features such as:

Hybrid static & server rendering: It allows for web pages to be rendered once (SSG) and/or multiple times (SSR) per request, all in the same project.

Automatic Code Splitting & Smart Bundling: Pages get smaller (thus, faster) since only the necessary packets for their rendering are allowed through.

Hot Code Reloading: Code alterations during development are updated automatically in the application.

Route prefetching: New pages are loaded faster because Next automatically prefetches the JavaScript needed to render them. Its file-system-based routing is set to the “pages” folder by default, automatically turning any file inside it into a page.

Integrated TypeScript support: Self-explanatory. Like an IDE, no configuration is needed for default values. (Vercel’s website even has a tutorial on the functionality.)

Additionally, Next is optimized in an out-of-the-box philosophy, allowing for minimal setup time with the bonus of indexable, SEO-improving websites.

When to use Next?

When to use Next?

What made Next big was how it enabled the back-end to do the heavy lifting of rendering, instead of React’s client-side standard. Therefore, any website or application built with React benefits from getting rid of this framework deficiency.

In general, websites created with Next are faster. For some, the difference is barely visible. But, as an example, for websites with multiple images in modern formats (think lazyloading and redimensioning), load times can improve by multiple seconds. Since bundling is handled better, the end result is a lighter, more responsive page.

For multinational projects, Next has the added benefit of having built-in support for internationalized routing — that is, it natively identifies different languages, allowing for translations via locale and making it easier to adapt the product.

Who is using Next?

Who is using Next?

Big players who have discovered Next.js include Tiktok, Netflix, Hulu, Twitch (in-app), Uber, and GitHub itself, among others. Not by coincidence, most of those are visually-heavy pages operating in multiple languages and markets.

A more comprehensive list can be found in Next’s showcase.

NUXT: Ramping up your front-end via Vue

NUXT: Ramping up your front-end via Vue

Nuxt.js is a JavaScript framework as well. Similar to Next, it also allows for web content to be partially or totally pre-rendered server-side and delivered as SSGs, therefore improving page responsiveness, interactivity, and SEO.

Where it differs, however, is in the approach. Whereas Next aims to solve issues originated in React-based front-ends, Nuxt instead is, roughly speaking, a framework for frameworks — mostly Vue.

Vue, with its UI-heavy focus, is well-suited to create powerful single-page applications. While SPAs’ simplicity is always welcome, it comes with the usual SEO and performance challenges, particularly to mobile users. Nuxt tackles those by streamlining development and using SSR, letting developers predefine SEO meta-tags for each page.

When to use Nuxt

When to use Nuxt

Vue’s modular architecture is suitable for the development of complex applications, but it requires manual configuration of routing. If deadlines are an issue, Nuxt can help programmers save a lot of time by automating the process through its folder structure, as well as by its out-of-the-box optimization.

The need for SSGs is also a hint that using Nuxt is probably a good idea. Likewise, in cases where SEO is a must, so will be Nuxt. This includes dynamic content sharing for social media purposes.

It’s important to note that in cases where Nuxt isn’t required — for instance, if routes must be handcrafted or SEO is irrelevant — its use can turn out to be cost-ineffective to the project since it requires a server to run. Bear that in mind before execution to avoid needless reworkings or migrations.

Who is using Nuxt?

Who is using Nuxt?

Some Nuxt users you might know include Nespresso, Ubisoft, Bitpay, and GitHub. A comprehensive showcase can be found on Nuxt’s official page.

NEST: A JavaScript solution for the back-end

NEST: A JavaScript solution for the back-end

Nest.js parts ways with the other frameworks previously mentioned by being an Angular/TypeScript-based framework mostly used to build web APIs. The crucial difference, however, is its function as a back-end framework.

While Node.js applications shine with remarkable front-end performance — it’s where customers notice them, after all — server-side stories are notoriously sketchy, especially in regards to application architecture.

Nest attempts to fix the back-end solution-juggling by coming up with a ready-to-use, efficient architecture that simplifies testing, scaling, and maintenance in server-side applications. End users might not perceive those, but their value is equally important to a project.

All in all, Nest’s keyword is versatility — from microservices support to an extended repository layer that includes MySQL, MSSQL, MongoDB, and more — and its similarities to Java and C#, paired with a relatively low learning curve, turn it into a rather trivial pickup for seasoned programmers. As a keen bonus, it boasts a huge, greatly detailed documentation.

When to use Nest?

When to use Nest?

A key feature of Nest is its architectural malleability: Nest is compatible with pure JavaScript despite being built on TypeScript. Furthermore, being part of the Node.js ecosystem opens up quick and simpler integrations with other Node projects if so needed. This makes Nest a strong contender for the back-end whenever JavaScript is involved anywhere in the stack.

Still in the versatility camp, Nest borrows Express’s plentiful use of third-party plugins (and it can also be configured to use Fastify), but makes the API’s inner workings clearer, enabling devs a plethora of options when tackling complex tasks like business applications. Those applications can also be more easily transposed into microservices, again courtesy of its simpler architecture.

So, in short: If your project needs quick development and multiple testing, expects fast growth, is planned on long-term, and will likely benefit from a JavaScript front-end, chances are that Nest will serve you best.

Who is using Nest?

Who is using Nest?

Among Nest’s adopters are massive global companies that can’t operate without impeccable scaling, from banking to sportswear: Adidas, Decathlon, Roche, Capgemini, Societe Generale, among others, have chosen Nest as their back-end architecture.

Nest’s website can be checked for a complete list.

So, to recap…

As a rule of thumb:

Next is the React framework to pick when you need consistently fast front-end rendering in complex pages.

Nuxt is the Vue solution for those same complex servicing issues, plus when deadlines are a concern.

And Nest is your back-end JavaScript framework to simplify Full Stack development when the project demands a JavaScript front-end.

It’s important to stress that when dealing with a customer-centric web/mobile application nowadays, it’s virtually impossible to avoid JavaScript at some level. The Node.js ambient is rich with options for both ends of the stack — albeit more for the front, admittedly — and chances are your project will have to consider its many possible frameworks.

As always, research and ideation make for a cost-effective execution, so dispersing doubts and understanding your options before tackling them is never an outdated approach. On the contrary, it pays off every single time.

--

--

Vention

The software development partner of choice for innovators looking to reach new heights 🚀