TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEXT.JS

Next.JS is a free and open-source Java Script framework based on React that helps developers build blazing-fast websites and apps.

  • 2016
    Created in
  • Total freedom in execution
  • Great for content-heavy websites
  • Support both SSR and SSG
VS
GATSBY JS LOGO WHITE

GATSBY.JS

Gatsby.JS is a React-based free and open-source framework that helps developers build blazing-fast websites and applications. It offers built-in performance, scalability and security.

  • 2017
    Created in
  • Easy to start with
  • Rich plugin ecosystem
  • Great for small websites

Next JS vs Gatsby JS – Which One To Choose in 2024?

Next js vs Gatsby Js - Which One to Choose in 2024

Intro

Today we will discuss the topic that has been very popular for the last few years: which is better for building modern web applications, Next.js vs Gatsby.js? 

Recently, Server-Side Rendering (SSR) and Static Site Generator (SSG) have enabled us to create feature-rich, scalable React apps. They also gave birth to a wealth of possibilities for Gatsby and Next.js developers. Right now, they’re both focused on a hybrid rendering approach, blending SSR, SSG and Client-Site Rendering to offer the highest performance and flexibility. 

They’re also both in the middle of the Jamstack world, which has expanded beyond its initial scope and it’s no longer only about static site generation, but is about serverless functions, edge computing and dynamic content strategies. And they evolved together with it. 

The question remains: which one is better to work with? And, of course, in which case? Today we will start the discussion with performance, and then go through the similarities and differences between Gatsby and Next. 

[Spoiler alert: We prefer Next, we even built our website with it. We also see a big shift in our customers’ preferences that choose Next.js as the framework for building their new web apps and web platforms. We adore it mostly for the wide community (belive us, it really makes the difference), comprehensive and up-to-date documentation, fast-paced development cycles, server-side rendering (which Gatsby also provides, but Next.js is a shining star here), creating custom API routes what simplifies the architecture, complete freedom in fetching the data (while in Gatsby you’re limited to GraphQL), and Vercel that provides better and MUCH CHEAPER hosting than Gatsby Cloud and Netlify]. 

“At first, our preference, as well as that of our clients, leaned more towards Gatsby. However, as we delved deeper, we discovered that Next.js offered an unparalleled blend of ease and power. It wasn’t long before both we and our clients recognized its effectiveness. Today, we proudly say that around 90% of our web development projects leverage Next.js. Its adaptability, performance, and simplicity make it not just a tool, but a cornerstone in our web development strategy, consistently delivering the most benefits to our clients.”

Jakub Dakowicz CTO at Pagepro
Jakub Dakowicz, CTO at Pagepro

Ready to build your new web app?

Performance in Gatsby and Nextjs

Each open-source react framework has introduced significant updates aimed at improving site performance, but the introduction of Next.js 13 and 14 has particularly shifted the landscape with groundbreaking optimizations.

Gatsby Performance

Gatsby has long been celebrated for its ability to produce highly performant static sites. Its build process, powered by GraphQL data layering and static site generation (SSG), results in websites that load incredibly fast, providing an SEO and user experience boost. Gatsby’s Deferred Static Generation (DSG) further enhances performance by generating pages on-demand, thereby reducing build times for large-scale projects.

Key Performance Features of Gatsby:

  • Static Site Generation: Ensures quick load times by serving pre-built HTML and static assets.
  • Image Optimization: Automatic image optimization for faster page loads.
  • Deferred Static Generation (DSG): Reduces build times by generating pages only as needed.

Next.js – Performance Enhancements in Versions 13 and 14

Next.js has introduced several performance optimizations in its latest versions that have a direct impact on build times, load times, and overall site efficiency. Version 13 brought Turbopack, a Rust-based bundler, offering significantly faster builds than its predecessor Webpack. This advancement alone can dramatically reduce development time and improve site performance.

Next.js 14 continues this trend with further optimizations, including enhanced Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) and new features like React Server Components, which allow for dynamic server-side rendering with minimal client-side JavaScript, reducing load times and improving interactivity.

Key Performance Features of Next.js:

  • Turbopack: Offers up to 700x faster updates than Webpack, significantly reducing build times.
  • Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR): Allows pages to be updated after the build without needing a full rebuild, enabling dynamic content updates with static performance.
  • React Server Components: Reduces the amount of JavaScript required for interactive pages, improving load times and SEO.

While Gatsby continues to excel in building static, high-performance websites with great SEO out of the box, Next.js’s recent updates, especially in versions 13 and 14, offer new tools and optimizations that enhance both developer experience and site performance.

Similarities between Gatsby.js and Next.js

As they both are great to build Jamstack websites, let’s have a look at what makes them similar.

Benefits of Next.js and Gatsby.js

Performant and SEO-friendly websites.

Thanks to static site generator (SSG) and server-side rendering (SSR) in both Gatsby and Next.js, your web app can be indexed in Google much more easily. This enables you to attract many more visitors through organic search traffic.

To rank higher:

  • Your content needs to be well-written and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efficient,
  • You need to provide a great user experience for your visitors,
  • You need to take care of website speed metrics.

And this is where performance really matters.

Gatsby is a perfect tool for achieving performance results, as it generates static HTML for final users (and also search engines). But not to leave the competitor behind, the same thing is possible with Next JS development services. Additionally, Next.js’s ISR and React Server Components provide a unique advantage for sites that frequently update content but still wish to maintain high SEO rankings.

What’s more, fast load times, interactive pages, and smooth transitions are crucial for a positive user experience. Next.js’s advancements in reducing client-side JavaScript bloat can lead to more responsive interactions, potentially giving it an edge for highly dynamic, application-like websites.

Leveraging React with Gatsby and Next

Both Gatsby and Next harness the power of the React framework, bringing its component-based architecture to the forefront of web development. This collaboration allows developers to benefit from React’s robust ecosystem, including:

  • Component-Based Approach: Facilitates reusable UI components, making development more efficient and modular.
  • Rich Ecosystem of UI Kits: Offers a plethora of UI libraries and tools that can significantly accelerate the development process.
  • Wide Developer Community: Ensures easy access to resources, support, and shared knowledge from a vast network of developers.
  • Excellent Developer Experience (DX): React and its frameworks prioritize making the development process as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

So you may ask:

why do I even need GatsbyJS or NextJS? isn’t React good enough?

So, while React provides a solid foundation for building dynamic user interfaces, it operates primarily on the client side. This limitation can impact SEO and initial page load performance, which is where Next js and Gatsby offer the extension of React’s capabilities.

Enhancing React with Gatsby and Next.js

Gatsby and Next.js address React’s client-side rendering limitation by offering advanced build and rendering strategies:

  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR): Both frameworks allow for rendering components on the server, improving SEO and performance by delivering static HTML to the browser.
  • Static Site Generation (SSG): They can pre-render pages at build time, which is excellent for performance and SEO.

Simplifying web development

Another similarity in the competition of Gatsby vs Next.js is that those two frameworks provide a boilerplate – a fixed project structure that needs to be followed during the development.

Having a boilerplate has many great advantages. For example:

  • comprehensive documentation of the Next js or Gatsby site
  • better tooling,
  • easier setup,
  • better development experience,
  • easier project handover.

Thanks to that, both Gatsby and Next.js can significantly simplify and speed up the React app/website development cycle.

A choice of big players

Both Gatsby and Next.js are used by big players who care about technology and are future-proof professionals.

Next.jsGatsby.js
Loom
Plex
The Washington Post
Hulu
TikTok
Twitch
National Geographic
Affirm
TypeScript
Bitcoin
Plenty of Fish
ServiceTitan
Source: Nextjs.org/showcase & Gatsby.js Showcase

Key Differences between Gatsby vs Next.js

Both Next.js and Gatsby are great for building super-fast and SEO-friendly websites, and the decision about which one to choose is really a matter of your project requirements.

Let’s now have a look at differences, to help you map and decide which is best in your case.

Data handling and rendering methods

Gatsby.js

Gatsby js originally started as a static site generator (SSG), where it would pre-render pages at build time. This means that the pages are generated during the build process and served as static HTML and assets. This approach provides excellent performance and SEO benefits.

Later, Gatsby introduced server-side rendering (SSR) and client-side rendering (CSR) capabilities. This option (in version 2.0) allowed developers to opt for server-side rendering on specific routes instead of the traditional pre-rendering. This allowed for dynamic content fetching on the server side and combining it with the static content.

Gatsby’s data handling is deeply integrated with GraphQL. In Gatsby, you can source or load data from various plugins and APIs using GraphQL queries. Gatsby’s data layer (or GraphQL data layer) allows you to fetch data at build time and create static pages with that data. This pre-rendered approach is highly performant and SEO-friendly.

You can also use Gatsby’s “Server Rendering APIs” to perform SSR for dynamic content. This involves data fetching on the server side during runtime and combining it with statically generated content.

But there’s even more. In 4.0 version, Gatsby introduced Deferred Static Generation (or DSG) – a rendering method that seeks to delay or defer the building of certain pages until run-time. These deferred pages are marked during build-time and then actually built during run-time. 

Next.js

On the other hand, Next js initially was a server-side rendering (SSR) tool, but since version 9.3 it also supports static site generation. But there’s more for Next.js, as it has an Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR), which allows you to create or update static pages after you’ve built your site. In other words, it makes building dynamic websites even easier.

In this case, Next.js is much more flexible, as he enables developers to decide themselves how to approach data fetching.

Additionally, in 2023 Next.js 13 was released, promising an even better future!

The list of Next.js benefits is growing with every release. The most important among them are:

  1. Turbopack, the new Rust-based successor to Webpack brings: 700x faster updates than Webpack, 10x faster updates than Vite and 4x faster cold starts than Webpack
  2. And of course, Next.js App router – this new paradigm of building apps was released at the beginning of May 2023. We can say it opens the doors to upgraded developer experience, rendering performance, and the mental model. This update brought new benefits, like:
  • Streaming app elements to the user – Thanks to using React Server Components, app elements can be streamed to the customers in the blink of an eye, so they can interact with an app without waiting for the full load
  • Rapid render of the application using static rendering methods
  • Enhanced development efficiency thanks to the server-centring routing
  • Server Components allow you to define components that execute on the server during rendering and then stream updates on the user requests. This process provides benefits such as improved initial load times, reduced JavaScript bundle sizes, and improved SEO.

3. Also, in Next.js 14, a new partial prerendering was introduced, which enables devs to prerender parts of the web application while leaving other parts to be rendered client-side or server-side as needed. This solution balances static generation and dynamic rendering, catering to the specific needs of various page content types within a single application.

Partial prerendering in Next.js 14 allows a page to include both static and dynamic content. Imagine a webpage as a partially completed puzzle: the static pieces are already in place when you open the box (similar to pre-rendered static site generation, or SSG), but the dynamic sections (like a shopping cart in an e-commerce site) are left blank, to be filled in by the user’s browser in real-time.

This means visitors immediately see a usable page, with dynamic content (like the shopping cart) loading seamlessly as needed, enhancing the user experience by providing immediate content while waiting for the rest to load dynamically.

Michal Sawicki, Next.js Expert at Pagepro
Source: What’s Next.js 14

Deferred Static Generation va Incremental Static Generation

Gatsby’s Deferred Static Generation (DSG)

Deferred Static Generation (DSG) in Gatsby and Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) in Next.js are innovative approaches to optimizing web performance and developer experience for static site generation. Both aim to address the challenge of building and updating large sites efficiently, yet they approach the problem from slightly different angles.

Gatsby’s DSG allows developers to delay the generation of certain pages until they are requested, which can significantly reduce build times for sites with a large number of pages or infrequently accessed content. This means that pages not critical to the initial user experience can be generated on-demand, improving the scalability of static sites.

On the other hand, Next.js’s ISR offers a dynamic solution by allowing pages to be statically generated at build time and then revalidated (or regenerated) on a per-request basis with a specified frequency. This method ensures that the content remains up-to-date without necessitating a full rebuild of the site, providing a balance between static efficiency and dynamic content freshness.

While DSG focuses on optimizing the initial build process, ISR emphasizes content freshness and incremental updates, making each suited to different scenarios within the modern web development landscape.

Community – Next.js or Gatsby? 

Jamstack websites took web development by storm. So did Next.js and Gatsby.

React Developers immediately picked it up and fell in love, as it was extremely pleasant to work with.

However, we can see a huge difference between Next.js and Gatsby in the matter of popularity and developers pool, and we think that the numbers speak for themselves here:

According to npm trends, for the last 5 years, the next.js downloads have grown significantly while Gatsby stays on the rather same level (and much smaller than Next.js’)

Npm Trends Next.js vs Gatsby.js
Source: npm trends

Then we have an annual Stack Overflow Survey – in 2023 Next.js climbed from 11th to 6th place in the Best Web Frameworks and Technologies while Gatsby didn’t even reach the first 20…

Next js vs Gatsby js Stack Overflow 2023
Source: Stack Overflow 2023

On Github we also can see a huge predominance of Next.js, see the stats below:

From all of the stats and numbers, we can clearly see, that Next.js is much, much more popular than Gatsby. And, as a result of this, the Next.js developers pool is bigger, which means that finding an experienced dev for your team (internal or for team augmentation) is much easier.

Plugins, themes, extensions, integrations

Gatsby provides a rich plugin ecosystem, which can make your life a bit easier. It includes a wide variety of plugins for SEO, image optimization, data sourcing, and more and can significantly speed up the development time. 

On the other hand, Next encourages you to build everything by yourself, which gives you pretty much-unlimited possibilities and freedom in the execution. But it doesn’t mean that it lacks support for plugins, themes, extensions or integrations. It also has a thriving ecosystem of third-party libraries and modules that can extend its functionality. It’s just Next philosophy is more focused on giving the user the flexibility to choose how to implement features, which leads to more customized projects. 

Still hestitating between frameworks?

Best use cases for Next.js sites

next.js logo

Generally, NextJS is a better idea to choose when SSR becomes more important than SSG.

This is when:

  • Content is frequently updated or needs to be always up-to-date
  • You have a large, multi-user site like TikTok (real-time publishing)
  • You can’t afford to rebuild the whole website (f.e. big eCommerce), as it would take ages to do it with SSG.

Large multi-user websites

For large multi-user platforms and the amount of data generated by its users in real-time, it’s not a surprise that the crucial and absolutely most important thing is performance. On top of that, “real-time” means rendering needs to be done constantly, with the newest data available.

This could be quite a challenge for Gatsby. And this is why in case of large multi-user websites, Next.js is the ultimate winner. And this is why in case of large multi-user websites, Next.js is the ultimate winner. Also, ISR allows for pages to be updated after they’re built, providing the freshness of dynamic content with the speed of static sites. This is ideal for news sites, social media platforms, and any site requiring up-to-date content.

TikTok

an image of main page of Tiktok Nextjs website

Twitch mobile

an image of main page of twitchmobile Nextjs website

Client-side rendered applications (SPA/MPA)

SPA is a web application or website that interacts with the web browser by dynamically rewriting the current web page with new data from the web server, instead of the default method of the browser loading entire new pages.

SPA is a perfect solution to build an exceptional and rich interaction between the user and your application.

Top Single Page Application requirements should be:

  • Super performant
  • Ability to support feature-rich apps
  • Great user experience

The goal is faster transitions that make the website feel more like a native app. And here Next.js excels because it greatly supports hybrid applications that can utilize both server-side and client-side rendering, catering to complex applications that require dynamic user interactions without compromising on initial load performance. It also includes API routes, allowing developers to build APIs directly within their Next.js applications, which simplifies the architecture for modern web applications that rely on backend data.

hulu

an image of main page of hulu Nextjs website

Ticket Master

an image of main page of Ticketmaster Nextjs website

Big eCommerce Websites

Conversion is crucial for eCommerce platforms, as the ultimately successful user path should end up with a sale.

Besides that, if a small change will come, it needs to be visible everywhere, therefore, the production of SSG pages would take ages in that case.

For Big eCommerce, the most important factors are:

  • Speed
  • Custom user experience
  • Ability to make frequent changes
  • Integrations with third-party systems like: PIM, marketing automation, ERP.

Next.js is better suited for sites and portals where content personalization and real-time updates are critical. Its SSR and dynamic routing capabilities enable personalized content delivery and interactive features. Additionally, for platforms with heavy user interaction and data processing, Next.js provides the necessary infrastructure to scale efficiently and maintain performance, thanks to its server-rendering capabilities and optimization features.

Deliveroo

an image of main page of deliveroo Nextjs website

Ticket Swap

an image of main page of ticketswap Nextjs website

Web portals

The success of a web portal is mostly dependent on his performance, as a huge amount of data is constantly added in real-life time by it’s users (user generated content).

The other important factor for web portals is personalization and security.

Take a medical portal with a fragile health data of thousands of patients. You need to have something extremely safe and in many cases encoded & decoded in real time.

We could say that the most important factors for web portals are:

  • Super performant
  • Secure
  • Able to support custom features
  • Full support for real-time user generated content

And this is why Next.js is the winner in this case, as it would be incredibly hard to interact with users just by using static pages. Of course most of these functionalities you can achieve in Gatsby using third party services, but without them Next is a clear winner.

Realtor

an image of main page of realtor Nextjs website

TV Publica

an image of main page of Tiktok Nextjs website

Real-world use cases of Gatsby Sites

gatsby logo

The great source of Gatsby sites examples is Gatsby Showcase but to have a full picture of Gatsby features let me present you a few other examples.

Corporate websites (companies, service websites, quick landing pages)

Corporate websites are like digital business cards. They need to work superfast and are not updated very frequently. And that’s a perfect case for a static site landing pages.

These kinds of websites are displaying the same information for anyone visiting the site (no user authentication & register functionalities, just plain information).

So, a corporate website requirements will be:

  • Great user experience (preloading)
  • Great performance (Google Page Speed)
  • Full SEO support (static HTML output)
  • Integration with (headless) Content Management System (CMS)

As Gatsby static site generator performance is better than Next JS server side rendered websites together with SSG, Gatsby is the winner for building static corporate websites.

In corporation entire site should be managed by CMS and this is also why it wins over Next, as Gatsby supports plugins to get content from almost all CMSs, databases, REST APIs, and GraphQL.

In summary, Gatsby wins because of:

  • Better performance than Next JS
  • Shorter development time with a wide range of Gatsby plugins, starters, themes and integrations with headless CMSes

Digital Ocean

an image of main page of Digital Ocean gatsby website

AutoloadIT

an image of main page of Autoloadit Gatsby website

Public pages for any B2B or SaaS product websites

The main goal of B2B and SaaS websites is to convert visitors into customers.

This is where speed and user experience are both extremely important factors.

When you have calculated the cost of your lead you are now able to estimate and calculate ROI of a faster website (with lower bounce rate and higher organic search traffic).

B2B and SaaS product website requirements:

  • Great User Experience & Performance
  • Full SEO support
  • Integrations with user analytics, and automation marketing tools
  • Integrations with CRM

And once again, the winner here is Gatsby.js, mostly because of:

  • Better performance than Next JS
  • Shorter development time with a wide range of Gatsby plugins, starters, themes and integrations with headless CMSes

SendGrid

an image of main page of SendGrid Gatsby website

HASURA

an image of main page of Hasura Gatsby website

Personal blogs

As an individual you want to have a blog that is:

  • Cheap to host
  • Easy to Edit
  • Advanced in technologies

Any static generated website is cheap to host, as you can host it for free using:

  • GitHub Pages
  • Netlify
  • Vercel

One of the most important things in having a blog is to be extremely SEO efficient, and obviously, it’s great to save cost on hosting, and this is why Gatsby is a winner here.

Kent C. Dodds

an image of main page of Kent Dodds Gatsby website

Most Recommended Books

an image of main page of Most recommended books Gatsby website

Gatsby vs Next.js – The verdict?

Today it seems like Next.js is winning the battle at pretty much any area, and we can see that on the market and among our customer’s preferences.

Of course, the final verdict between Gatsby vs Next.js is highly dependent on what you are aiming for. If the goal is to have a super fast website that doesn’t need much updates, then Gatsby.js seems to be a good move.

However, if you want to have a super fast and user-friendly page that needs constant updates, is tailor-made for your needs, and you should definitely consider Next.js.

Still not sure which technology will be better?

Read more

React vs Svelte – comparison

Vue vs React – comparison

Guide through Angular and React

18 great examples of Next js websites – article

Pros and cons of Next js

Sources:

Chris Lojniewski

CEO at Pagepro - React & React Native software house specialising in building tailor-made web applications for clients around the world. Chris is currently spearheading a mission close to his heart: making development frictionless. His philosophy transcends the conventional, recognising that while modern tech, especially React & React Native, is a game-changer, the real revolution lies in combining cutting-edge technology with effective processes, creative exploration, and strategic foresight.

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