January 10, 2024
Viktor Tar

Next.js: App Router or Pages Router?

If you’ve ever used Next.js before, you’ve likely been using the Pages Router. The App Router has only been available in a stable version for a few months, so it’s relatively new and unfamiliar to many.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The main benefits of the App Router over the Pages Router
  • How it affects performance and developer experience
  • Which routing method is best for custom software development

Let’s dive into the details!

App Router

Innovations and Benefits

The new App Router's entire architecture is based on React Server Components (RSC), which allows for asynchronous components and top-level await. One of the significant benefits of the App Router is its server-centric routing, meaning the route map does not need to be downloaded to the client, improving performance, especially for applications with many routes.

Performance and Caching

The App Router enables in-memory caching of React Server Components payloads, making navigation between previously visited pages much faster. This refined caching approach enhances both user experience and developer efficiency.

Developer Experience

The App Router comes with built-in tools like routing, code-splitting, pre-rendering, and API support, all pre-configured. This simplifies daily use, allowing you to start coding your application's logic immediately.

Pages Router

Stability and Experience

The Pages Router is a well-established, battle-tested solution used successfully by many large corporations. This method uses client-side routing, meaning the route map is downloaded to the client, sometimes resulting in slower load times.

Tool Support

The Pages Router is compatible with most developer tools, such as the T3 stack, which offers full-stack type safety and easy setup. This can be particularly beneficial for custom software development, as these tools enhance developer productivity.

Comparison

Developer Experience and Performance

The App Router’s innovations, like React Server Components, top-level await, and refined caching, offer significant advantages in terms of developer experience and performance. However, the Pages Router is a stable and well-established solution with extensive tool support.

Performance Issues

The App Router has been criticized for not being mature enough for larger, dynamic applications due to its aggressive caching, which can be problematic for handling live data. Therefore, in custom software development, it's essential to consider the type of data the application handles and how this affects the caching strategy.

Tools and Compatibility

The App Router is not yet compatible with all developer tools, which can be a disadvantage for those working with established tools. In this case, the Pages Router might be a better choice until the App Router becomes fully mature.

Conclusion

Both the App Router and the Pages Router are excellent solutions but serve different purposes. The App Router’s innovations and performance improvements offer significant advantages but are not yet compatible with all tools. The Pages Router is a stable and well-established solution with extensive tool support, making it an ideal choice for custom software development.

About the author

Viktor Tar

I'm Viktor, full-stack web developer here at TRAVLRD.

I was doing competitive programming when I was in high school, and I got my way slowly toward web development.

I've knowledge about a lot of different stacks, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ReactJS, VueJS, and PHP.

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