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How to create a blog with Next.js 10

riccardobevilacqua profile image Riccardo Bevilacqua Originally published at riccardo.codes on ・4 min read

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a Static Site Generator (SSG) based on React.

According to the official website:

Next.js gives you the best developer experience with all the features you need for production: hybrid static & server rendering, TypeScript support, smart bundling, route pre-fetching, and more. No config needed.

Why choosing Next.js over Gatsby?

Vercel recently released Next.js 10, a stunning combination of power and simplicity.

The popular rival Gatsby provides a lot of features and a wide range of plugins, but the overhead and the compulsory use of GraphQL might be considered overengineering by some users.

Gatsby still represents a valid tool, as usual it's a matter of trade off and personal taste.

One small step

Vercel provides several examples to be used as templates for your projects.

A good starting point is certainly blog-starter, which can be seen in action here.

It can be installed by executing:

npx create-next-app --example blog-starter blog-starter-app
# or
yarn create-next-app --example blog-starter blog-starter-app

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if you prefer TypeScript:

npx create-next-app --example blog-starter-typescript blog-starter-app
# or
yarn create-next-app --example blog-starter-typescript blog-starter-app

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Just replace blog-starter-app with the name of your project.

You can take a look at a local preview as follows:

  1. cd <your-project-folder>
  2. npm run dev

Browsing http://localhost:3000 you'd see the result.

It looks pretty nice already, doesn't it?

Next.js blog starter, local preview
Next.js blog starter, local preview

One giant leap

Opening the project on your favorite editor (e.g. Visual Studio Code) you'd see this folder structure:

Next.js blog starter, folder structure
Next.js blog starter, folder structure

The most important folders are:

  • _posts, your posts in *.md files (*.mdx are supported as well)
  • components, React components for the UI
  • pages, a special folder where the magic happens, files and folders here give your project structure as well as routing (more details below)
  • public, where assets are stashed

A post on your blog would be a Markdown file with metadata used by Next.js to build a static page accordingly. Information such as cover image or excerpt published on the homepage would appear here.

For example, this post...

Next.js blog starter, sample post file
Next.js blog starter, sample post file

...would be rendered like this:

Next.js blog starter, sample post preview
Next.js blog starter, sample post preview

Second star to the right

Next.js has a file-system based routing, which detects subfolders and files in the special directory called pages creating routes accordingly.

Let's take a look at pages:

Next.js blog starter, pages folder
Next.js blog starter, pages folder

It comprises the following files:

  • index.js is the homepage of the site
  • _app.js allows to introduce customization, such as styles, to be applied application wide
  • _document.js allows to restructure the document as in the whole HTML document encapsulating your application
  • [slug].js represents any given post, its name contains [] because it's leveraging dynamic routing

When you create a post as Markdown file in _post folder, the file name determines implicitly the slug of your post. If your file is called hello-world.md, then its slug will be hello-world.

Next.js takes the relative path pages/blog/[slug].js and generates the route /blog/:slug, which in this case would be /blog/hello-world.

For further information please refer to this documentation.

And straight on till morning

Feel free to explore the components folder and make changes to meet your needs. Since they're mere React components they will probably look familiar.

Conclusion

Next.js is quite opinionated and might feel odd at first maybe, but its gracious learning curve and the elegant minimalistic API design make it a phenomenal tool to add to your belt.

Setting aside personal tastes, Next.js is certainly worth your time.

The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

― Frank Herbert, Dune

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