Front-end Development
8 min read

What is the Next.js equivalent for Angular?

Everything you need to know about Angular Universal, the Angular-based competitor to Next.js.

Antonello Zanini
Published July 21, 2022

Next.js is one of the most popular full-stack frameworks available, and it has rapidly become one of the most adopted technologies when it comes to web development.

In addition to adding SSR (Server-Side Rendering) capabilities to React, Next.js provides a complete toolset for building fast, efficient, high-performance websites with low load times.

In this article, we will provide an overview of Angular Universal, which is the closest equivalent to Next.js in the Angular ecosystem.

What is Next.js?

As stated in the official documentation, Next.js is a flexible JavaScript framework based on React that provides everything you need to create fast web applications. With Next.js, much of the logic to render the application is moved from the browser to the server. This greatly reduces the amount of client-side rendering as compared to React, which makes Next.js apps SEO-friendly.

Next.js apps are complete web applications, which means you can deploy them anywhere that the Node.js runtime is supported. This is pretty compelling for JavaScript developers who are looking for a consistent set of tools across both client-side and server-side development. Additionally, Next.js can take advantage of the thousands of npm libraries available, making it a cost and time-effective solution.

What is Angular?

Angular is a component-based framework for building scalable web applications. Specifically, Angular is a collection of well-integrated libraries providing you with several features, including rendering, forms management, routing, data binding, dependency injection, testing/mocking capabilities, and an event system. Therefore, imagine Angular as a “batteries included” framework coming with a suite of tools for developing, updating, building, and testing code.

Angular is built on TypeScript and, like React, is used to build SPAs (Single Page Applications) that render client-side. The main difference between React and Angular is that React is a library, while Angular is a fully-featured framework. In other words, Angular is an MVC framework that does not need any additional libraries to be complete. On the other hand, React is just a library and requires other libraries to become complete. So, you need external dependencies to achieve your goals easily.

What Do Next.js and Angular Have in Common?

Next.js and Angular are technologies with different goals. However, there are a few common elements between the two frameworks. Let’s now have a look at the three most important ones.

How Next.js Differs From Angular

Even though Angular and Next.js have a few things in common, they were developed with two distinct goals in mind, and they are inherently different. Several differences between the two frameworks could be mentioned, but let’s focus on the three most relevant ones:

What is important to understand here is that Angular cannot be used for server-side rendering. This raises a question: in the same way that Next.js is based on React and allows server-side rendering, is there something similar based on Angular? The answer is Angular Universal!

Angular Universal: an Alternative to Next.js Based on Angular

The Angular Universal project is a project to expand on the core APIs from Angular created by Patrick Stapleton and Jeff Whelpley. Unlike Angular itself, Angular Universal is a community driven project and it is not developed and maintained by Google. This does not mean that it is not a reliable technology. In fact, Angular Universal has become so popular that it is now the officially supported way to render Angular applications on the server.

In other terms, Angular Universal enables server-side rendering while using Angular. Specifically, Angular Universal executes on a server and is responsible for generating static Angular application pages that will be later sent and run by the client.

Angular Universal’s main features are:

Now, let’s learn how to convert an existing Angular project into an Angular Universal app.

From Angular to Angular Universal If you already have an Angular >= 7 application, enter the application directory, and launch the following command:

ng add @nguniversal/express-engine

This will make several changes to your app, adding and updating some files to make your application server-ready. Your Angular app is now an Angular Universal app.

Then, you can start rendering your Angular Universal application locally with the command below:

npm run dev:ssr

Now, visit https://localhost:4200 in your browser, and you should be able to see your Angular Universal application in action.

As you can see, moving from Angular to Angular Universal only takes one command and a couple of minutes.

Angular Universal vs. Next.js: Main Differences

Let’s delve deeper into the main differences between Angular Universal and Next.js.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned what Angular Universal is, why you need it to server-side render or statically generate Angular applications, and what differences it has when compared to Next.js. Angular Universal is a powerful tool that comes with all the benefits of server-side rendering, such as making the web crawlers' job easier when it comes to SEO, improving performance on mobile devices, and showing the first page more quickly. Turning an existing Angular application into an Angular Universal project takes only one command, making Angular Universal the perfect alternative to Next.js for Angular.

Thanks for reading! We hope that you found this article helpful. Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Get started with Reflect today

Create your first test in 2 minutes, no installation or setup required. Accelerate your testing efforts with fast and maintainable test suites without writing a line of code.

Copyright © 2022 Reflect Software Inc. All Rights Reserved.