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Interview: Next.js Enthusiast, Author and NearFormer Michele Riva

We Sit Down with NearFormer Michele Riva to Discuss his New Book "Real-World Next.js"

Michele Riva is a Milan-based senior architect at NearForm, having joined in February 2022. A passionate and experienced software architect with almost a decade of experience in product and consultancy companies, Michele most recently won the Microsoft MVP Award and is a Google Developer Expert .

In 2022, Michele released his first book, "Real-World Next.js,", where he explores the web framework that forever changed the way we build web applications.

We sat down with Michele to discuss his book and Next.js .

What led you to write this book?

Before writing my book, I was very active writing technical articles on medium, having published over 50 public domain articles. One day, an editor from Packt Publishing reached out to see if I’d like to transform these pieces of technical content into a book. I said why not, and the rest is history!

What was the writing process like?

It was difficult for two reasons:

  1. Firstly, writing a book is very different to writing a short-form article, which I was used to.
  2. Secondly, it’s hard to write about an ever-changing technology in a way that will remain relevant not just today but in 12 months time too. I had to consider extensively how things will look over the next year to be able to create this book.

So, what is Next.Js?

Next.js is a scalable, high-performance React.js framework for modern web development . It provides an extensive feature set, including hybrid rendering, route prefetching, automatic image optimization, and internationalization, out of the box.

What does the book cover?

This book starts at the basics of Next.js and demonstrates how the framework can help you reach your development goals. It showcases Next.js’ versatility when building real-world applications with step-by-step explanations, and can assist readers in selecting the right rendering methodology for a website. By the end of the book, readers will be able to design, build, and deploy modern architectures using Next.js with any headless CMS or data source.

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When did you start using Next.js?

I started using Next.js around 2017 and in this time I’ve made different things using Next.js. When I first discovered it, I was using Ruby as my main programming language, and I found that Next.js was much easier to learn, although very different. Another added plus is that it also enables you to have the same programming languages for the server and browser. I made a big bet on Next.js, investing a lot of my time into it, and I’m glad that it has paid off!

What would you say are the top 3 benefits of using Next. js?

  1. Firstly, Next.js was created to assist with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) by facilitating indexing by moving some parts of React rendering onto servers.
  2. Secondly, as an Open Source product, there is a welcome, active and vibrant community to support enhancements and fixes. There is a vast repository of documentation, including videos, books, blogs, making it easy to access information rapidly.
  3. Finally, it’s really, really easy to learn, maintain and deploy compared to other frameworks. If anything fails, understanding what is going wrong is simple.

How to know if Next.js is right for you?

The number one reason for using Next.js is to ensure that your website is reachable by Google. You’ll need to understand how the product will scale and be maintained, and how you want to deploy it.

Next.js is so easy to work with that this makes it a good choice overall as many other alternatives have hidden complexities. If you want a framework that enables a high level of interaction, this is a sign that Next.js is right for you.

What makes your book unique in its take on Next.js?

Next.js was born to do server-side rendering (SSR). However, in my book, I look at how SSR is not necessarily a good choice. The book explores how to avoid using Next.js for this purpose. While it’s true that Next.js is beneficial for SEO, you can in fact achieve the same SEO results by using other, less known, features. Ultimately, this book will help you make better architectural choices when thinking about your Next.js architecture.

Insight, imagination and expertly engineered solutions to accelerate and sustain progress.