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Exploring the Power of Next JS Router: A Simple Guide

In the ever-evolving landscape of web development, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Next.js, a popular React framework, has gained significant traction, thanks in part to its robust routing system. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Next.js Router, exploring its features, capabilities, and best practices. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of how to leverage Next js Router to build dynamic and efficient web applications.

Understanding Next.js

Before we dive into Next.js Router, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of Next.js itself. Next.js is a React framework that provides a set of tools and conventions to streamline the development process. One of its standout features is the built-in routing system, which simplifies navigation between pages and enhances the overall user experience.

Is Next.js better than React router?

Using JSON is much easier for the coder than using React. In programming, you have a good idea next. JSP requires less code whereas the React platform requires a longer code cycle. React is a good solution when constructing a complex web application with complicated routing and heavily data-oriented components.

Understanding Next.js Routing

Next.js Routing is a crucial aspect of any web application, determining how users navigate through different pages and content. Next.js provides a built-in routing system that offers both simplicity and flexibility.

Basic Routing

Next.js simplifies routing through its pages directory. Each .js file in this directory becomes a route, automatically generating the corresponding URL path. For instance, a home.js file in the pages directory will create a route accessible at /home.

Let’s create a simple example to illustrate basic routing:

// pages/index.js
import React from 'react';

const HomePage = () => {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Welcome to Next.js!</h1>
    </div>
  );
};

export default HomePage;

With this setup, accessing / in the browser will render the content of the HomePage component.

Dynamic Routing

Next.js excels at handling dynamic routes, where the URL parameters vary. We’ll explore how to implement dynamic routes and discuss strategies for fetching data based on these dynamic parameters. This portion will showcase the flexibility of Next.js Router in handling a wide range of scenarios, from blog post pages to product details. Dynamic routes are defined using square brackets []. For example, a file named [id].js in the pages the directory will create a dynamic route accessible at /posts/[id].

// pages/posts/[id].js
import React from 'react';
import { useRouter } from 'next/router';

const PostDetailPage = () => {
  const router = useRouter();
  const { id } = router.query;

  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Post ID: {id}</h1>
    </div>
  );
};

export default PostDetailPage;

In this example, accessing /posts/123 will render “Post ID: 123” on the page.

What is the difference between the next app router and the page router?

In a Next.js application, there might be some confusion regarding the terms “Next.js App Router” and “Pages Router.” Let’s clarify these terms and understand the distinctions between them.

Next.js App Router:

  • The term “Next.js App Router” typically refers to the routing system provided by Next.js at the application level.

  • This includes the useRouter hook and various events exposed by the router, which can be utilized in components or custom App components to handle navigation and customize routing behavior.

  • The Next.js App Router is responsible for handling client-side navigation, managing the state of the current route, and triggering events during route changes.

  • Customization of the App Router is often done in the _app.js file, where you can create a custom App component to wrap your entire application and apply global configurations.

// pages/_app.js
import { useEffect } from 'react';
import { useRouter } from 'next/router';

const MyApp = ({ Component, pageProps }) => {
  const router = useRouter();

  useEffect(() => {
    // Custom logic using the Next.js App Router
    // e.g., handling route changes, applying global behaviors
  }, [router.events]);

  return <Component {...pageProps} />;
};

export default MyApp;

Pages Router:

  • The term “Pages Router” is often used to describe the file-based routing system in Next.js.

  • In Next.js, the pages directory plays a crucial role in defining the routes of your application. Each file inside the pages directory corresponds to a specific route, and the folder structure reflects nested routes.

  • This routing is automatic; you don’t need to set up a separate configuration for routing. If you create a file named about.js inside the pages directory, it automatically becomes accessible at the /about route.

// Import the React library
import React from 'react';

// Create a functional component named 'About'
const About = () => {
  // Return JSX representing the content of the About component
  return (
    <div>
      {/* Display a heading for the about page */}
      <h1>About Us</h1>
      
      {/* Display additional content or information about the page */}
      <p>Welcome to our website! We are dedicated to providing...</p>

      {/* You can add more HTML elements or React components as needed */}
      {/* For example, you might include images, links, or other components */}
    </div>
  );
};

// Export the About component as the default export
export default About;

In this example,

  • I added a heading (<h1>) to represent the title of the “About” page.

  • I included a paragraph (<p>) with a placeholder message for additional content. You can replace this with actual information about your website or project.

  • I added comments ({/* … */}) throughout the code to provide explanations for each section.

The “Next.js App Router” refers to the programmatic tools and hooks provided by Next.js to handle client-side navigation and customize routing behavior. On the other hand, the “Pages Router” refers to the file-based routing system inherent in Next.js, where the structure and names of files in the pages directory determine the routes of the application. Both are integral components of Next.js and work together to provide a seamless and efficient routing experience for your web application. Feel free to customize and extend the code based on your specific requirements!

Navigation with Next.js Router

Efficient navigation is key to a smooth user experience. Next.js Router incorporates prefetching, a mechanism that loads linked pages in the background, enhancing navigation speed. We’ll delve into the prefetching capabilities of Next.js Router and discuss optimization techniques to ensure your application performs seamlessly.

Next.js Router provides a straightforward API for client-side navigation. The Link component is a key player in this process, making it easy to create links between pages.

Basic Navigation

The Link component allows for seamless navigation between pages without a full page reload. Here’s a basic example:

// pages/index.js
import React from 'react';
import Link from 'next/link';

const HomePage = () => {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Welcome to Next.js!</h1>
      <Link href="/about">
        <a>About Us</a>
      </Link>
    </div>
  );
};

export default HomePage;

Clicking on the “About Us” link will smoothly transition the user to the /about page.

Navigating Programmatically with Next.js Router

In many web applications, user interactions or dynamic factors may dictate the need for programmatic navigation. Next.js Router facilitates this through the useRouter hook and the push method, offering developers a powerful and flexible way to control navigation behavior.

  • The UseRouter Hook

    The useRouter hook is a fundamental part of the Next.js Router, providing access to the router object. This object contains information about the current route, query parameters, and methods for programmatic navigation.

    Here’s a brief overview of the useRouter hook:

    // pages/example.js
    import React from 'react';
    import { useRouter } from 'next/router';
    
    const ExamplePage = () => {
      const router = useRouter();
    
      // Accessing route information
      const currentRoute = router.pathname;
      const queryParameters = router.query;
    
      // Using router methods
      const navigateToAbout = () => {
        router.push('/about');
      };
    
      return (
        <div>
          <h1>Example Page</h1>
          <p>Current Route: {currentRoute}</p>
          <p>Query Parameters: {JSON.stringify(queryParameters)}</p>
          <button onClick={navigateToAbout}>Go to About Us</button>
        </div>
      );
    };
    
    export default ExamplePage;

    In this example, the use router hook is used to access the current route’s pathname and query parameters. Additionally, the push method is employed to navigate to the /about page when a button is clicked.

  • The Push Method

    The push method is a key feature of Next.js Router, allowing developers to trigger programmatic navigation. It takes a destination URL as its first parameter and can include options such as shallow and replace.

    Let’s explore the push method in more detail:

    // pages/navigationExample.js
    import React from 'react';
    import { useRouter } from 'next/router';
    
    const NavigationExamplePage = () => {
      const router = useRouter();
    
      const navigateToContact = () => {
        // Basic navigation
        router.push('/contact');
      };
    
      const navigateWithQuery = () => {
        // Navigation with query parameters
        router.push({
          pathname: '/products',
          query: { category: 'electronics' },
        });
      };
    
      const navigateWithShallow = () => {
        // Shallow navigation
        router.push('/blog', undefined, { shallow: true });
      };
    
      return (
        <div>
          <h1>Navigation Examples</h1>
          <button onClick={navigateToContact}>Go to Contact</button>
          <button onClick={navigateWithQuery}>Products (Electronics)</button>
          <button onClick={navigateWithShallow}>Shallow Navigate to Blog</button>
        </div>
      );
    };
    
    export default NavigationExamplePage;

    In this example, the push method is used for basic navigation to the /contact page, navigation with query parameters to the /products page, and shallow navigation to the /blog page.

Use Cases for Programmatic Navigation

  1. Form Submissions: After successfully submitting a form, you can use programmatic navigation to redirect users to a confirmation page or another relevant section.

  2. User Authentication: After a user logs in or out, programmatic navigation helps direct them to the appropriate page, enhancing the user experience.

  3. Dynamic Content Loading: Programmatic navigation is beneficial when loading content dynamically based on user interactions, such as selecting different tabs or filters.

  4. Conditional Routing: Depending on certain conditions or user roles, you can use programmatic navigation to guide users to specific pages within your application.

The combination of the useRouter hook and the push method in Next.js Router provides a robust solution for handling programmatic navigation. By leveraging these features, developers can create dynamic and responsive web applications that seamlessly adapt to user interactions and changing application states.

Advanced Features of Next.js Router

Shallow Routing

Shallow routing is an advanced feature in Next.js Router that allows changing the URL without rerunning data fetching methods. This can be particularly useful when you want to update the URL for client-side navigation without fetching new data from the server.

Let’s explore the implementation of shallow routing with code examples:

// pages/posts/[id].js
import React from 'react';
import { useRouter } from 'next/router';

const PostDetailPage = () => {
  const router = useRouter();

  const handleShallowNavigation = () => {
    router.push(`/posts/${router.query.id}`, undefined, { shallow: true });
  };

  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Post ID: {router.query.id}</h1>
      <button onClick={handleShallowNavigation}>Shallow Navigate</button>
    </div>
  );
};

export default PostDetailPage;

In this example, the handleShallowNavigation function utilizes the push method with the shallow: true option. When the button is clicked, it updates the URL without running data fetching methods again. This is especially useful when you want to change the URL for client-side navigation without re-fetching data from the server.

Catch-All Routes

Catch-all routes in Next.js provide a powerful way to match dynamic paths with multiple segments. For instance, a file named […slug].js will match paths like /products/1/2/3, and the slug parameter will be an array containing [1, 2, 3].

Let’s explore catch-all routes with an example:

// pages/products/[...slug].js
import React from 'react';
import { useRouter } from 'next/router';

const ProductPage = () => {
  const router = useRouter();
  const { slug } = router.query;

  return (
    <div>
      <h1>Product Details</h1>
      <p>Slug: {JSON.stringify(slug)}</p>
    </div>
  );
};

export default ProductPage;

In this example, accessing /products/1/2/3 will render the slug as an array: [1, 2, 3]. Catch-all routes provide flexibility in handling various dynamic paths within your application.

Use Cases for Shallow Routing and Catch-All Routes

  1. Shallow Routing:

    • Pagination: When implementing client-side pagination, you can use shallow routing to navigate between pages without reloading the entire page.

    • Tabs and Filters: Updating URL parameters for tabs or filters without fetching new data from the server.

  2. Catch-All Routes:

    • Nested Content: Handling nested content structures where the number of segments in the URL may vary.

    • Dynamic Paths: Creating dynamic paths that adapt to different levels of hierarchy within your application.

These advanced features enhance the versatility of Next.js Router, allowing developers to create more dynamic and interactive user experiences while optimizing performance by selectively fetching data.

Customizing the Router

Next.js Router provides options for customizing its behavior. You can create a custom App component and use the onRouteChange or onBeforeHistoryChange events.

// pages/_app.js
import { useEffect } from 'react';
import { useRouter } from 'next/router';

const MyApp = ({ Component, pageProps }) => {
  const router = useRouter();

  useEffect(() => {
    // Event handler for route changes
    const handleRouteChange = (url) => {
      // Custom logic on route change
      console.log('Route changed to:', url);
    };

    // Event handler for before a history change occurs
    const handleBeforeHistoryChange = (url) => {
      // Custom logic before history change
      console.log('Before history change to:', url);
    };

    // Event handler for after a route change occurs
    const handleRouteChangeComplete = (url) => {
      // Custom logic after route change
      console.log('Route change complete:', url);
    };

    // Subscribe to route change events
    router.events.on('routeChangeStart', handleRouteChange);
    router.events.on('beforeHistoryChange', handleBeforeHistoryChange);
    router.events.on('routeChangeComplete', handleRouteChangeComplete);

    // Cleanup event listeners on component unmount
    return () => {
      router.events.off('routeChangeStart', handleRouteChange);
      router.events.off('beforeHistoryChange', handleBeforeHistoryChange);
      router.events.off('routeChangeComplete', handleRouteChangeComplete);
    };
  }, [router.events]);

  return <Component {...pageProps} />;
};

export default MyApp;

In this example, we’ve added event handlers: beforeHistoryChange and routeChangeComplete. These events provide more control over the customization of the router behavior.

  • beforeHistoryChange: This event is triggered just before a history change occurs. You can use it to perform actions before navigating to a new page.

  • routeChangeComplete: This event is triggered after a route change is complete. It allows you to perform actions once the new page has been fully loaded.

By subscribing to these events and providing custom logic, you can tailor the router’s behavior to suit your application’s specific needs. Whether it’s logging, analytics, or additional data fetching, these events offer a way to integrate your custom logic seamlessly into the Next.js routing system.

Closing the Loop: Your Guide to Next.js Router’s Summary

In this comprehensive guide on PureCode.AI of Next.js Router, we’ve explored the Next.js Router and its various features. From basic routing to dynamic routes and advanced features like shallow routing and catch-all routes, Next.js provides a robust solution for handling client-side navigation in React applications.

By leveraging the Next.js Router and its associated hooks and components, you can create a seamless and performant user experience. As you continue to build your Next.js applications, consider exploring additional features and customization options provided by the router to meet the specific requirements of your project. This article on PureCode.AI should have provided you with a lot of information on Next.js Router. Happy coding!

Yash Poojari

Yash Poojari