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Notes on NextJS: Routing in NextJS

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been delving deeper into Next.js, the React meta-framework. One of the initial hurdles when acquainting oneself with a new framework is understanding its routing mechanism, a fundamental feature of any web application.

Next.js takes a unique folder-based approach, distinguishing itself from other frameworks I’ve worked with. Unlike Angular and Vue, which utilise a component-based router system detached from the application’s source folder structure, Next.js integrates routing seamlessly into its architecture, building upon React’s inherent lack of a default routing system. It’s fascinating to observe how Vercel has seamlessly integrated this functionality into the Next.js framework.

The folder-based routing system in Next.js is remarkably straightforward. Each route within your application corresponds to a sub-folder in your source directory, with each sub-folder containing a page.tsx file representing the destination of that route.

While this approach is innovative, it’s not entirely novel. In the early days of web development, before the advent of JavaScript frameworks and server-side rendering, we employed a similar folder-based routing system, where each route corresponded to an index.html file within its respective folder. For example, the homepage’s route would be, while a separate route would be This historical perspective underscores the cyclical nature of ideas in the web industry.

It’s heartening to witness the simplification of routing, particularly with Next.js’s support for dynamic routes. Moreover, it’s intriguing to note that other frameworks, such as Nuxt for Vue and AngularJS for Angular, are also adopting folder-based approaches. This resurgence of an old concept underscores the enduring nature of certain ideas within the ever-evolving landscape of web development.

Demo app

To learn a bit about the routing and how to call external APIs in Next I created a small demo app using the Star Wars API to get lists of Films, People and Planets. Its a very simple app, but these small demo apps are a great way of learning new concepts.

In this demo app you can see that the folder structure uses a folder for each sub-section (films, planets, species, starships):

Inside each folder is a page.tsx file which is the ‘homepage’ of the route, these sub-folders can also have a layout.tsx file which defines the layout of the page, by overriding the main layout.tsx layout.

To support dynamic routes, NextJS uses a special sub-folder named [id] where the dynamic property, in this case an id number used to direct the user to another page.tsx file inside this special sub-folder:

This dynamic parameter is accessible within the page.tsx file via the component params:

export default async function Page({ params }: { params: { id: string } }) {
    const filmId =;
    const filmDetails: FilmDetails = await getFilm(;

So in this example code I’m getting the ID from the params and then passing it to my API call. It’s so simple and straight forward, I’m not adding anything to a routes file, or setting up routes and getting the URL params is extremely easy.

I really like the approach Next has taken with routing, now I’m going to take a look at handling forms and form data which is another common function of web apps.

NextJS, a new journey

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been diving into #NextJS and #React for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m a firm believer in continually learning new things, whether it’s a different framework or a fresh language. Plus, let’s face it, React is a big deal in the business of frontend development. As a freelancer or contractor, having some React know-how opens up a wider range of projects to dive into.

My initial impression of React is pretty positive. It’s a lightweight library that’s perfect for whipping up frontend apps, especially ones that need to hook into hefty APIs like those powered by Node.js or .NET. If your team is all about the frontend/UI side of things, React is definitely worth considering.

Comparing it to Angular, React is a whole different beast. It doesn’t come packed with all the bells and whistles Angular does out of the box (think routing, testing, RxJS, Services, etc.). But hey, Angular’s been making strides to simplify things lately, which is great news for its future.

Now, onto NextJS. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of application frameworks. It gives you all the tools you need to build a top-notch app right out of the gate. I’ll admit, the concept of Server components and Client components threw me off a bit coming from an Angular background. But hey, in NextJS, everything’s a Server component unless you say otherwise. Plus, having server-side rendering baked in is a nice touch.

I’m also digging NextJS’s App Router and file-based routing. Compared to Angular’s routing, it’s way more straightforward. Sure, other frameworks like AnalogJS are jumping on the file-based routing train too, but I haven’t gotten my hands dirty with AnalogJS just yet.

So, my plan? Stick with NextJS and see where it takes me. I’ll be putting my name out there for contracts and projects that are NextJS-friendly.

One thing I firmly believe is that no matter which framework you’re into, a good web developer can adapt to any of the big ones out there (Angular, React, Vue). It’s not just about how many years you’ve racked up using a framework—it’s about being a team player, understanding what the client needs, communicating effectively, staying open to learning from others, and bouncing ideas around.

Anyway, I’m excited to see where this NextJS journey leads me!