Next.js 13, now with even more React

Joel Hooks
Joel Hooks
techno butterfly

This is a milestone release for both Next and React with one of the first chances we've had to develop web applications using React Server Components (RSC).

At Next Conf 2022 both the teams from Meta and Vercel were present and excited to finally get React Server Components deployed to production.

There has been some mild controversy suggesting that Vercel and Next have received special treatment from the React team. What isn't obvious is that the React team is no longer only at Meta. Vercel employs at least two full-time developers including Sebastian Markbåge who left Meta to join Vercel in 2021.

This means that Vercel is as much part of the React team as Meta.

For the rest of us that aren't part of the React Core team, this is good news. React is being funded and deployed outside of the context of how Meta uses the library to build Facebook. The core interests of the React tool are diversified.

It's healthy.

Upgrading to Next 13

Next 13 introduces a new paradigm of routing and layouts that makes use of React Server Components.

This feature is released in Next 13 as a beta.

You can upgrade to Next 13, but that doesn't opt you or your team into using the new layouts and server components today.

egghead is a decent-sized Next app, and we are planning to upgrade to Next 13 and take our time exploring the new layouts and server components since it is a radical shift in how we approach building our application.

Comparisons to "old school PHP"

PHP has been the butt of jokes for years, but still drives a huge portion of the internet.

One of the coolest things about PHP that likely drives a lot of the comparison is that you could have your SQL right there next to your markup. Inline. In context.

React Server Components have that feel.

Kent C. Dodds writes about this in his excellent article Full Stack Components.

Kent is sharing this paradigm in the context of Remix. There are a handful of core differences. The Remix team (acquired by Shopify who maintains Hydrogen) is not betting on React Server Components, though they have said that they will support them as they mature more.

Full stack components feel great though, and I think we'll see much more of this paradigm over the next several years.

Open Source Ecosystem Ripple Effects

There is no doubt that there will be ecosystem ripple effects with the introduction of React Server Components.

Libraries like react-query and tRPC are the first to spring to my mind, and the massive amount of work those maintainers are facing to understand and support the incoming paradigm shift.

It's s a good time to check in with your favorite maintainers and pitch in where you can.

Exciting times to be a nerd

The constant here is change and evolution. We benefit from a mountain of choice, but that choice can be a burden. All of these ideas are building on the past, and it's exciting to watch what is changing and what is staying the same.