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Where does Nuxt.js fit in Web Development?

December 7th, 2021 . 6 minutes read
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Vue.js has made an exemplary presence in the developer’s community with its amazing features and ability to build progressive applications and user interfaces.

Nuxt.js is an open-source, high-level JavaScript frontend framework that builds applications on top of Vue.js. It aims to make powerful and server-side rendered web apps while using Vue.js libraries and development tools like Babel, webpack, etc.

It is based upon ‘Next’ framework but in Vue.

If you are familiar with Vue, you won’t feel out of place while dealing with Nuxt. In fact, it is way too similar to Vue.js except for certain updated features that enable the developers to write well-structured code in no time.

What are you waiting for, then? Let’s jump right ahead-

Nuxt.js v/s Vue.js

The key difference between Nuxt.js and Vue.js lies in the fact that Vue.js runs at the client-side and builds single-page applications (SPAs). While this whole approach is ideal for improving user experience and improves the app speed, it has a few limitations.

You see, the browser takes quite a long time during the initial loading of the website because SPAs ship pieces of HTML/CSS of web pages without full reloading, and the browser needs to gather it all together to make some meaningful content to show.

It means that while the browser is fetching your JavaScript code, the search engines hardly get any content to crawl. It leaves your website off-eye to the search engines, hence, SEO-unfriendly. And though your website might be a wonderful addition for users, it won’t appear to potential users in search results, reducing the chances of it getting more clicks and visitors.

Nuxt takes Vue to the next level! It deals with both the client and server-side.

To resolve the above-mentioned problem, Nuxt brings these alternatives (in addition to SPA) on the table-

  • Server-side rendering
  • Static-generated apps (Pre-rendered)

Let’s see how –

Server-side rendering

Nuxt.js renders the vue.js app on the server-side out of the box. Since we were facing SEO issues with SPAs, Nuxt resolves this problem by developing server-side rendered single page applications (also called universal apps).

As we know that server-side rendering refers to preloading the website over a server which in turn generates a ready-to-display page on every request. This page is then used for indexing by search-engines during crawling.  This entire process greatly improves website performance and SEO.

However, Nuxt.js isn’t only about SSR. In fact, it is promoted as a framework for building universal applications. What does it mean? Let’s see-

Static site generation

Nuxt also works as a static site generator, i.e. renders your application statically and delivers you the benefits of a universal app without a server.

Static rendering is a type of pre-rendering in which Nuxt renders your application at build time by converting the web pages into static HTML and JavaScript files, and deploys them at a hosting service like Vercel, Netlify, etc. There is no server included in this approach.

Nuxt.js is pre-configured to generate universal Vue apps on the server through nuxt generate command. When you deploy your website at Nuxt with target:static, it generates HTML & JavaScript files for all .vue pages and stores them inside a separate directory. The content delivery network (CDN) then sends these generated static files to the browser to display whenever requested.

Furthermore, Nuxt.js makes the page loading even faster by applying automatic code-splitting to navigate between pages and enhances SEO by adding meta tags with each page.

This is how Nuxt becomes a great alternative over Vue.js as you are not bound to go with SSR only (as it can be tedious), you can always choose static generation. Also, you have the option to build SPAs by taking advantage of Nuxt features if that’s what the requirement demands!

Why choose Nuxt.js for Web Application Development?

There are many other features that make Nuxt.js a go-to framework for web development over Vue.js which we will here-

Standardized folder structure

While Vue.js provides a good-enough assets and components directory for smaller and simple apps, but when the complexity of the application grows, it doesn’t have anything to offer to help.

On the other side, Nuxt.js enables you to create separate directories to organize your code in however way you see fit for both small and large applications, such as-

  • layouts directory for templates layout
  • pages for application routes and views
  • store directory for Vuex store files
  • plugins directory to contain the JavaScript plugins
  • @nuxt/content/ module to fetch content on client & server sides and to display the page
  • package.json file that contains all related dependencies and scripts
  • static directory to store static files

These are only some common examples, there are many more configurable directories and modules available in Nuxt to better manage your application code. It’s like playing with superfast speed for developers!

Automatic routing

A website consists of many pages, and we need a router to navigate and show these pages. Vue.js requires you to set up router.js file configuration and place your router over there, all of which you need to do manually.

Nuxt.js relieves you of all this work by generating an automatic router configuration, i.e., vue-router as per provided .vue files inside the pages folder. This, in turn, means that you no longer have to write routing configurations. For navigating between pages, you can use <NuxtLink> component.   

Easy App Configuration

Nuxt apps are too easy to set up and are configurable as per your needs.

You can simply start with-

npm install nuxt
npm init nuxt-app <project-name>

Nuxt.js comes with a default configuration for most use cases, but it does not lock you up with them and deliver the flexibility to reconfigure to suit your needs.

Whenever you want to modify any of the default configurations, just overwrite it with nuxt.config.js file.

Meta tags management

Another wonderful feature of Nuxt is its ability to embed meta tags with your application!

Nuxt enables you to define default <meta>  tags for your application inside the nuxt.config.js file. It comes in handy when you want to make your pages easily discoverable at search engines, as you can add specific meta title and description tags for enhancing SEO.  

These are the most hyped features of Nuxt.js, but there are many others in the list, such as-

  • Hot code reloading
  • Code splitting for every pages/
  • Automatic bundling
  • Middleware

Though Nuxt renders all these wonderful features, ultimately it all depends upon your explicit requirements to decide which of the two- Vue or Nuxt- you will end up with.

📢 Nuxt.js 3 is here!!

The Vue.js team re-wrote Nuxt after years to come up with a new, lighter, and faster Nuxt 3!

The newer version of Nuxt.js brings a bunch of new capabilities like hybrid rendering, Nuxt kit with TypeScript compatibility, smooth migration from Nuxt 2 along with a new server engine in the picture – Nitro.

This would be the first-ever JavaScript application server that is portable across many cloud hosting service providers.

Nuxt 3 supports Vite.js and Vue 3 and is still in the beta phase but get your fingers crossed as the Vue team is about to wrap it up soon.

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Author: payal
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