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Santhanam Elumalai
Santhanam Elumalai

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Beyond SPAs and SSR: Why a Hybrid Approach Might Be Your Web App's Perfect Match

Not Quite SSR, Not Quite SPA: Why I Chose a Hybrid Approach

Building a web application involves trade-offs. There's the classic Single Page Application (SPA) approach, where everything runs in the browser, and then there's Server-Side Rendering (SSR), where the server generates the entire HTML page. But what if neither quite fits your needs? That's where a hybrid approach can be a game-changer.

My Requirements:

  • Data-Heavy Screens: Multiple dropdowns pulling data on load.
  • Dynamic Content: Help text and error messages that change based on user interaction.
  • Multilingual Support: All text needs to be available in multiple languages.
  • Dynamic Menus: Menu structure changes based on user roles.
  • Role-Based Features: Feature availability depends on user permissions.
  • Large Menu List: A massive menu dependent on various factors.
  • Many Screens: Around 200 profiles and other screens.

Why Not Pure SPA?

An SPA could handle everything, but there's a catch: the initial wait. Holding users hostage while all the services load isn't ideal. Sure, we could try Suspense components, but things like dynamic menus and help text would keep the entire app in limbo.

Why Not Pure SSR?

Lazy-loading could help with a pure SSR approach, but for an application size like mine, I wasn't sure how well it would scale.

Enter the Hybrid Approach:

I wanted a lean structure that loads essential information on the server first, with the rest loading asynchronously. This lets me prepare pages with heavy data (cached on the server) and keep the initial load light.

Diving Deeper: Benefits and Drawbacks of the Hybrid Approach

We explored the high-level advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid approach for web development. Now, let's delve deeper into each point:


  • Lean Page Size & Faster Initial Load: Hybrid apps leverage the server to pre-render pages with essential data. This means less code for the browser to download initially, resulting in a quicker first impression for your users.

  • Server Does the Heavy Lifting: Complex data processing and calculations can be handled on the server-side, freeing up the user's device for a smoother experience. This is especially beneficial for users with less powerful devices.

  • Deployment Unit Size Freedom: Unlike pure SPAs where the entire application resides in the browser, the hybrid approach separates code. This allows for larger applications without worrying about exceeding deployment unit size limitations on some platforms.


  • Hydration Hurdles: Hydration refers to the process of turning the initial server-rendered HTML into a fully interactive client-side application. Hybrid apps can face challenges when hydrating dynamic data like dates or user-specific information. Extra steps might be needed to ensure a seamless transition from server-rendered content to fully interactive elements.

  • Dev Watch Mode Delays: Development environments often use watch modes to automatically recompile code changes. In a hybrid approach, this process can be slower because it might involve communication between the server and client-side code.

  • Global State Management Maze: Maintaining a consistent state across the entire application, especially for complex data, can be tricky in a hybrid approach. Different solutions might be needed for server-side and client-side state management, adding complexity.

  • Tunneling Troubles: If your internal services (APIs) are separate from the application server, accessing them might require network tunneling during development and testing. This can introduce additional configuration steps and potential security considerations.

Remember: The hybrid approach isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks against your specific project requirements before taking the plunge.


Going hybrid is a bold move. My advice? Keep your application flexible enough to transition to a full SPA as a backup plan. With this compatibility in mind, you have the freedom to explore ways to improve your application's core functionalities within the hybrid approach.

By considering both the advantages and challenges, you can decide if a hybrid approach might be the perfect fit for your next web application project.

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