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Nuxt js

Nowadays, deciding on a JavaScript framework for a project is like selecting food from a wide and varied buffet rather than from a tried and true menu. The number of options has become overwhelming, but choosing the right one for your needs is more important than ever before. You can find frameworks that are fast, feature-packed and well-documented, but very few offer those benefits on anything less than a steep learning curve. But that’s the ambition of one such alternative, Nuxt.js.


What is Nuxt.js?

Nuxt.js is a companion Node.js framework created on top of Vue.js. Using the Vue.js ecosystem and its libraries like vue, vue-router and vuex, it automates and simplifies the creation of statically generated or server-side rendered (SSR) websites. Developing with Nuxt.js is efficient and accessible to developers of all skill levels.

Alongside alternatives like React’s Next.js, Nuxt.js can seem quite similar. Both are considered minimalistic frameworks, have automatic code-splitting functionality and automate the building of server-side-rendered projects.

But despite their twin-like names, Nuxt.js is different from Next.js in some crucial areas. It works exclusively with Vue.js apps, so it's less opinionated on things like project syntax. There’s no need to lock yourself into using JSX-based components, and there’s far less manual configuration required. Routing and navigation are set up automatically using your project directory. ES6 and ES7 compilation require no extra work. And you get an auto-updating server, allowing for much quicker development.

Perhaps most importantly, Nuxt.js offers unparalleled performance, accessibility and SEO. In benchmarks against Next.js and Nest.js, Nuxt.js scores highest in those three areas: 98, 100 and 100 respectively, for a simple application.


How does Nuxt.js work?

Nuxt.js aggregates libraries from the Vue.js ecosystem like vue, vue-router, vuex and vue-server-renderer into a single package. Each library provides essential functionality that Nuxt.js then abstracts for developers.

vue provides the core Vue.js functionality for the front end. It enables a component-based, modular project structure for an application as well as front-end interactivity.

vue-router configures routes and navigation based on Vue components, automatically prepared based on a standardized project structure.

When using the ‘store’ option to create a project, Nuxt.js includes vuex to handle global state management. Useful for more advanced applications, vuex extends the existing state management abilities of Vue.js, allowing all parts of an application to read and write state information to a central store.

When paired with Nuxt.js’s own server-rendering functionality, these core Vue.js libraries allow Nuxt.js to automatically server render vue components inside the pages directory. But note that for single page applications, Nuxt.js can also statically generate (pre-render) assets for static hosting. And Nuxt.js supports an extensive array of modules that can be added to your project.

Taken together, these libraries make creating a blazing-fast, SEO-friendly application from scratch as simple as installing Nuxt.js and running npx create-nuxt-app <project-name>.


Benefits of using Nuxt.js

Server-side rendering with Vue.js

Instead of using the client’s machine, Nuxt.js renders Vue.js components on a Node.js server. The client receives pre-rendered HTML instead of JavaScript that must execute before a usable page appears. Since all the work happens on the server, there’s no need to pass data back and forth between the client and the server.

This is favorable for many reasons. Server-side rendering promotes data security, as there are no client requests to make outside of fetching templates to render. Private API keys and encryption details aren’t exposed to the client’s machine; they are kept on the server. Additionally, JavaScript files (which can be huge) don't have to finish loading on the client side for a web page to render, expediting page load times. Search-engine optimization improves as well. Loading pages on the server prevents search engine crawlers from having to execute JavaScript on their end to render sites. Since they receive raw HTML markup, crawlers can more easily index your website. Finally, refining components and pages for SEO by adding metadata comes built in with the Nuxt.js vue-meta library.

Nuxt.js makes all these benefits accessible by automating of most of the workflow required to get an SSR project up and running.

Static site generation

Should you choose to forego using a server for your project, Nuxt.js also allows you to create statically generated websites by simply running nuxt generate. Nuxt.js takes the project’s components and generates pre-rendered pages for them at build time, saving the client’s machine from having to do any rendering at run time.

This approach offers numerous benefits for sites or applications with static content. There’s no need to wait on API calls or JavaScript files to execute for pages to load. A significant portion of these actions are taken care of at build time, so pages load extremely quickly. Static sites, made up as they are of static files, don’t need a server to dynamically update data, which makes deployment easy and cheap. And without a database or any server logic, there’s nothing for hackers to exploit: just raw HTML that anyone can access.

Automatic code splitting

When generating routes for Vue.js components, Nuxt.js creates separate build files for each route and page, thus avoiding having to load every single component in the project on each page load. Only components on the current page are loaded, resulting in shorter load times.

Known as automatic code splitting, this process creates small chunks of code from large codebases. With these smaller chunks, Nuxt.js allocates memory in smaller units, ensuring those files get it that really need it. And Nuxt.js handles this automatically for all projects.

Small framework size

One reason for Nuxt.js’s spectacular performance is its minimalism. With its modular ecosystem, Nuxt.js maintains a lightweight core framework for its main functionality and makes extra features optional, so sites needn’t load unnecessary, bloated JavaScript. Nuxt.js projects start, finish and load lightweight thanks to its built-in code splitting. Your projects get heavier only if you need them to.


Drawbacks of using Nuxt.js

Much smaller market share

Compared to Next.js, Nuxt.js is young, and both its share of the job market and its community are small. Based on npm downloads and stars on GitHub repositories, Next.js is close to three times more popular than Nuxt.js. As a result, Nuxt.js doesn’t offer the benefits of as large a community as Next.js.

A smaller community means a smaller pool of developers in which you can ask questions, solve problems and build new projects. Despite the simplicity and great documentation that Nuxt.js offers, it may thus take longer to solve a Nuxt.js problem than in Next.js.

In the industry, the state of affairs for Nuxt.js is similar. Largely due to the immense popularity of React.js in the industry, companies are more likely to use Next.js or other React-based companion frameworks than adopt a completely different approach in the form of Vue.js or Nuxt.js. So, whether you’re an employer or a potential employee, using Nuxt.js over Next.js might present problems.


What is Nuxt.js used for?

Web applications with Vue.js

Developing universal web applications is one of Nuxt.js’s most common use cases. You can build a web application with Nuxt.js in three ways: server-rendered, single page application and statically generated.

For server-rendered apps, Nuxt.js inserts itself as middleware into your existing server. Single-page applications generated with Nuxt.js can be run either with a server or, if you prefer, without, in a kind of hybrid mode somewhere between server-rendered and statically generated. In this serverless hybrid mode, statically generated apps create their HTML and assets at build time.

Employing any of the three modes for a project requires just a few commands. There’s no complex configuration needed; Nuxt.js takes care of it all behind the scenes.

While all of the foregoing is possible with the base framework, Nuxt.js also supports additional modules to extend its functionality, allowing you to build apps of any complexity in a wide variety of configurations.

Static websites (JAM stack)

Statically generated websites built using Nuxt.js are faster, easier to build and more SEO-optimized than competitors like Next.js. The possibilities are many, and you can find examples of JAM stack websites built with Nuxt.js all over the internet.

A single nuxt generate command starts Nuxt.js automatically creating HTML for each of its defined routes at build time.


FAQ

How can I deploy a Nuxt.js app?

As we mentioned earlier, there are three main approaches to deploying a Nuxt.js app: server-rendered, single-page application and statically generated.

For a server-side-rendered or "universal” deployment, Nuxt.js projects must be built first and then started, using the following two commands:

nuxt build
nuxt start

For single-page applications whose content is updated at run time (via real-time API calls), projects must be built first, with content generated automatically after the build. Depending on whether you want the app to run server-side, either set Nuxt.js to SPA mode or just run build:


# To run Nuxt.js in SPA mode
nuxt build --spa

# For SSR apps
nuxt build

For a statically generated deployment, projects must generate static files so they can be hosted without a server. Depending on the Nuxt.js version, this is done via the following commands:

# For Nuxt >= 2.13 - after adding target: static to nuxt.config
nuxt build && nuxt export

# For Nuxt <= 2.12
nuxt generate

Summary

If approachability and efficiency top your priority list when choosing a framework, Nuxt.js is perfect for you. At its core, Nuxt.js aims to minimize the learning curve and developer effort involved in building SSR or static websites.

From building routes to setting up an auto-updating server, Nuxt.js handles trivial tasks so you don’t have to. Paired with Vue.js, it brings to your projects a less opinionated syntax and a modular component structure. This is accompanied by unparalleled performance, accessibility and search engine optimization. However, it isn’t perfect; Nuxt.js’s comparative youth means that its community and talent prospects are not as strong as competitors like Next.js.

Nuxt.js makes development easy for developers of all skill levels. Its versatility speaks for itself. In this age of specialized frameworks, it can be whatever you want it to be.