Express.js or Next.js for your Backend Project

In this article, I will introduce two JavaScript frameworks that can be used to build backend projects. Backend development is the development of server-side logic that powers websites and apps from behind the scenes. It typically includes all the code needed to build out the database, server, and application. From database migrations to API integrations to set up the server-side technologies that make a website tick.

Backend projects create projects to execute code on a centralized server and then communicate results with a client. These kinds of projects are executed efficiently with Express.js, and the number of web developers who use this framework is increasing daily. Next.js, on the other hand, makes backend projects more interesting because you can use it alongside an existing backend as well as for frontend development.

Both Next.js and Express.js are good tools for development and production projects. 

Development and production are terms that every software developer should know. Development refers to the stage when you are still building and experimenting with your application on your machine. It is not yet open for end users to do anything beyond quality assurance testing. Production represents the stage when your application is available for the public – end users– to use. You must have fixed all glitches at this stage (or at least all that you can find!), and the application is ready for users to do the work the application is built for and expect that work to be persisted. 

It is essential to state here that Express.js and Next.js are both powerful tools for creating an enjoyable user interface. However, both tools have peculiarities to understand so in this article I will help you decide whether Express.js or Next.js is the best Javascript framework for your backend project.

This article will compare Express.js and Next.js and show which may be preferable for you when embarking on a backend project.

What is Express.js?

Express.js (also referred to as Express) is a node.js web application framework. It is an excellent backend web tool and was founded by TJ Holowaychuk who also is the sole developer of Apex software.  Express.js is layered on node.js which aids in managing servers. Node.js is a reliable javascript runtime that is efficient in creating server-side applications. Express.js became popular when it was used by top brands like Fox Sports, PayPal, Une and IBM. For more companies that use Express.js, check this article on the Express.js website.

Web developers can make the most of the features of Express.js because it stands out among other web application frameworks, one reason being that developing with it is faster. In addition to this, it offers a less stressful system of debugging. If you are a developer, I am sure you understand how stressful finding and removing bugs from software can be. This is especially true with backend software as errors do not always show up directly to the end user.

What is Express.js used for?

In the JavaScript/Node.js ecosystem, Express.js is used to create applications, API endpoints, routing systems, and frameworks.

A selection of the types of applications you can build with Express.js on the backend include

  • Single Page Applications
  • Real Time Collaboration Software
  • Streaming Software
  • Financial Technology(Fintech) Applications

In the following sections I will discuss how Express.js can be used to implement these types of solutions.

Single-Page Applications

Single-Page Applications (SPAs) are a modern approach to application development in which the entire application is routed into a single index page. Express.js is an excellent framework for creating an API that connects these SPA applications to server resources and consistently allows them to serve data. Examples of single page applications include Gmail, Google Maps, Airbnb, Netflix, Pinterest, PayPal, and many other. Companies are using SPAs to create a fluid, scalable experience that works similar to an application in a browser window.

Real-Time Collaboration Software

Collaboration tools make it easier for businesses to work and collaborate daily. With Express.js, you can easily develop collaborative and real-time networking applications.

For example, this framework is employed to build real-time applications like chat and dashboard applications. Express.js make it virtually effortless to integrate WebSocket into the framework.

Express.js handles the routing and middleware portions of the process, allowing developers to focus on the critical business logic of these real-time features when developing live collaborative tools, rather than the real-time itegrations.

Streaming Software

Streaming software is ubiquitous these days. Most people use one like Netflix, Disney+, etc. Streaming software is complex real-time application typically using many layers of data streams. To build such an app, you’ll need a solid framework that can efficiently handle asynchronous data streams. Express.js It’s an excellent framework for developing and deploying enterprise-grade, scalable streaming applications.

Financial Technology (Fintech) Applications

Fintech refers to computer programs and other forms of technology that support or enable banking and financial services. Building a fintech application to support customers anywhere from any device is a continuing industry trend, and Express.js is one of the best frameworks for developing highly scalable fintech application

If your plan is to develop and deploy a fintech application with a high user and transaction volume, it may interest you to know that you’ll be joining companies like Paypal and Capital One in using Express.js.

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a React-based open-source web development framework. It was brought about by Vercel, which was formerly known as Zeit. It allows us to add functions – like server-side rendering and static web generations – to React based apps. In addition to this, it extends React to provide additional features that are extremely useful in production, such as caching, which improves response times and decreases the number of requests to external services.

Next.js is used in web development to create fast web apps. You can create a React app that uses server-side rendering to store content on the server in advance. End-users can easily interact with the HTML page and a user-friendly interactive website or app.

What is Next.js used for?

Next.js has handled quite a lot of problems in frontend for years now making big and popular companies to rely on it. It’s mostly known to help developers create performant web applications and speedy static websites. Below highlights some of the things that the framework is used for the following usage types, amongst others.

  • Server-side rendering
  • Static Websites
  • Routers
  • Web Software
  • Code Splitting

In the following sections I will discuss how Next.js can help with these sorts of utilizations.

Server-side rendering

By default, Next.js performs server-side rendering. This optimizes your app for search engines. You can also use any middleware like express.js or Hapi.js, as well as any database like MongoDB or MySQL.

Static websites

By employing a static generation tool such as Next.js, you can serve a full page of content on the first load. Next.js’s static site generator provides good speed without sacrificing the quality.


A router is a mechanism that lets you determine what occurs when a user goes to a certain webpage. For more details, see this page on the Next.js website. This is yet another fantastic feature of Next.js.

When you make use of the create-react-app command, you must usually install react-router and configure it but Next.js includes its own routers with no configuration. The routers do not require any additional configuration. Simply place your page in the pages folder, and Next.js will handle all routing configuration.

Web software

Because Next.js possesses features such as the TypeScript support which helps to avoid and catch errors in the development phase, it is suitable for building large-scale and complex software. Next.js includes a robust debugging feature, which allows developers to debug their code by generating friendly error messages.

Authenticating statically generated pages permits Next.js to automatically determine that a page is static if no blocking data requirements exist. This allows Next.js to support different authentication patterns. Next.js can be used to create a client-friendly interactive user interface.

Code splitting

It is true that code splitting, also referred to as lazy loading, enhances the user experience of your application. In some applications, it’s possible that a page may take some time to load. If the loading time is long, the visitor may dismiss your app because they are not sure whether the application has failed or not.

To avoid this, a trick is used to show the visitor that the page is loading, such as displaying a spinner. Doing this allows you to deal with and control slow loading by only loading part of the JavaScript in your page quickly, and loading the rest while the user waits, confident that the site has not frozen up.

Next.js includes methods for splitting code that makes it easy to dynamic loading of pages.

Edges and Drawbacks

In this section, I will provide you with a set of positives and negatives for both Express.js and Next.js. This will help you to decide which of the libraries in this article is best in certain situations.

Edges of Express.js 

This section will cover a few aspects of Express.js that makes these JavaScript tools great for back-end development.

  • It supports JavaScript, making it simple to learn. In addition to that, Express.js is also widely available and has a big community. 
  • It offers a straightforward route for client requests.
  • Express.js includes middleware that handles decision-making. You can define an error handling in the middleware as well.
  • Express.js provides developers with convenience, flexibility, and efficiency.
  • Asynchronous APIs are used.
  • Express.js is compatible with any database. Databases like MongoDB, Redis, and MySQL are straightforward to connect to.
  • It is simple to integrate with various template engines such as Jade, Vash, and EJS.
  • It’s simple to serve static files and app resources.

Drawbacks of Express.js 

Express.js exercises a lot of benefits in web development but there are also drawbacks that comes with working with this tool. In this section I will list some of them.

  • The middleware system provided by Express.js encounters a number of client request issues.
  • There could be issues with asynchronous callbacks. For more information on such callback, visit this page.
  • Developers who are familiar with other software languages may find Node.js’ event-driven nature difficult to grasp.
  • Organization of code in Express.js projects can be complex.
  • Express.js security can have security vulnerabilities that need frequent patching. For more details, visit this webpage.
  • Its error messages are frequently ineffective, making it hard to debug at times.

Edges of Next.js 

Comparing Next.js with its counterparts, you’ll come across plenty of benefits and this section will highlight some of these benefits.

  • The delivery of the complete webpage is ensured by static site generation.
  • When developing Next.js projects, it allows for simple deployment. All you do is link up your account to GitHub and transfer your Next.js repositories. 
  • It allows for simple page navigation. The Next.js router enables client-side route transitions between pages.
  • API Routes allows you to use multiple HTTP actions for the identical address in the same file.
  • Next.js includes TypeScript out of the box, making builds easier.
  • The number of developers is increasing as the popularity of Next.js grows. As a result, it may be easier to find a company or freelancer to make any necessary changes.
  • Security of data is reasonably easy to ensure using Next.js.
  • It makes creating an outstanding user experience (UX) easy.

Drawbacks of Next.js 

Some features of Next.js might come up as a disadvantage when relating it to how it affects you, relating to a particular situation, time or project and this section will shed more light on those cons.

  • Cost of flexibility is somewhat expensive. This is because Next.js does not include many installed front pages, so you must create the entire front-end layer from scratch.
  • Development and management are worth considering.  Say you want to use Next.js to build an online store but don’t have an in-house development team, you may need to hire someone to handle the development and management subsequently.
  • Because there is no built-in state manager, you will need to use Redux, MobX, or something similar.
  • In comparison to Gatsby.js, there are fewer plug-ins available.
  • Because Next. js supports static website development, the amount of time it takes do build software packages with many pages could be quite lengthy.

Key elements Comparison

In this table, I will show a list of key elements of a JavaScript libraries, and how Express.js and Next.js fit these elements.

Key elements 



Data fetching 

Doesn’t let Express.js deliver a response from server-side to an EJS template in client’s side

Next.js data fetching enables you to deliver your content in a variety of ways, based on the use case of your application.

Server use

Can be used both on the client-side and the server-side

Used for building server-side rendering applications 

Plug-in and ecosystem 

The Express Gateway plugin includes entities and supports event subscription.

Next.js makes use of existing powerful tools such as Webpack, Babel, and Uglify, and presents them to the end user in a stunningly simple interface.

Static generation 

Deferred static generation.  Developers can choose to postpone the creation of specific pages until the first time a user requests them.

Incremental static generation. After you’ve built your site, you can use Next.js to create or update static pages.


When developing a large-scale web application, it handles user API calls efficiently and requires little to no extra configuration.

Next, js makes it simple to scale multiple pages because it allows you to choose whether to render each page on the client, the server, or both.


a Node. js backend framework with minimalist and fast tools and functions for developing scalable backend applications

Because of the static destinations and server-side rendering, it is extremely fast.


It is beneficial for SEO as it offers crawlers from search engines with a fully rendered homepage, making their work easier.

Next.js is a fundamental tool for achieving impressive SEO performance. 

Express.js Vs Next.js: Is either truly better?

There are numerous JavaScript packages available for use in your project but determining which one is best for you can be difficult. Many developers use Express.js because it is simple to learn and rapidly growing. Next.js is also popular because of its ease of use and performance advantages.

Next.js is smart enough to only load the Java and CSS required for each document. This results in much quicker page loading times because the user’s browser isn’t required to install JavaScript and CSS that aren’t required for the page where the user is viewing.

Express.js enables the routing of web applications utilizing multiple URL and HTTP methods. It enables an Express JS designer to handle a large number of orders and quickly generate responses for specific URLs. This enhances the user experience while also allowing the apps to scale.

These two are great tools to use for the project but the question of which is better lies in what exactly the nature of your project is. One is a specialized backend tool while the other is a full stack tool which can be used for both frontend and backend.