A Guide To Server-Side Rendering In React

Server−side rendering has been around for a while now. It was first introduced in the early 2000s and has been used by many websites since then.

The idea behind this technique is to pre−render HTML pages on a server and send them back to the client's browser as they request them.

With server-side rendering (SSR), the page is rendered on the server. This ensures that the page is available to users even before it loads on their browser.

We’ll get to know more about SSR in this article −

How Server-side Rendering (SSR) Works?

It is the process of rendering a webpage on the server before sending it to the browser. So, when the server returns a ready-to-render HTML page and the necessary JS scripts, all static elements are rendered immediately in the HTML.

Meanwhile, the browser downloads and executes the JS code, which causes the page to become interactive. The browser now handles the client-side interactions on this page. The browser sends a request to the server via APIs for any new content or data; only the newly required information is fetched.

The advantages of this technique are that it saves time, reduces load time, and increases SEO rankings because it provides a better user experience by showing content faster than traditional client-side rendering does.

Overview of Server-side rendering in React

Server-side rendering in React is possible using ReactDOMServer.renderToString method and then returning the string from a Node.js HTTP server back to the browser.

ReactDOMServer is used for server-side rendering, which means that it will render your components onto an HTML string and send them back to the client as opposed to just returning them as an object or array of objects.

The renderToString method renders your whole application into a single HTML string, including any data you need for initializing your app, like API responses or initial state variables, which is perfect because you can use this string anywhere: on the server; in a static site generator; even in other projects!

Server-side rendering in React, in a nutshell, is the process by which the server converts web pages into viewable layouts before transmitting them to the browser. Dynamic components can thus be served as static HTML markup.

When indexing does not correctly handle JavaScript, this approach may be helpful for search engine optimization (SEO). It could also be useful when downloading a large JavaScript bundle hampered by a slow network.

Benefits Of Server-Side Rendering in React

Initially, server-side rendering means that every page is rendered and loaded from the server. Things have changed slightly since the introduction of server-side (universal) React. Because the first page is rendered from the server, subsequent pages are loaded directly from the client.

So you get the best of both worlds: the power of the initial server-side content plus the speed of subsequent loads that request only the content required for future requests.

One of the essential advantages of server-side rendering in React is the ability to improve application performance. However, it is far from the only advantage of server-side rendering. Let's now know all the advantages server-side rendering in React integration can provide for your application.

Distribution Of Content

When a social network user shares a link to a server-side rendered application in a post, an image and title are generated automatically. Thus, social network snippets can assist you in drawing attention to the content of your application and increasing traffic.

Increased Performance And User Satisfaction

When a client-side application is rendered, the JavaScript file for the application is downloaded to the client's browser before the application page begins to load. Because JavaScript files are typically large, this significantly increases the initial page loading time. You can also include server-side rendering in your React application.

Server-side rendering in React eliminates the need to download a JavaScript file before loading the page. The client's browser displays a fully rendered HTML file immediately, eliminating the need for client-side rendering.

If your application employs server-side rendering, your website visitors will not have to remain for the application content to load while staring at endless spinners or loaders.

Page Loading Metrics That Are Accurate

Rendering an application on the client's end denies the server information about how fast the client acquired the website's content.

When an application is rendered on the client's side, you have no idea how long it takes for the client to see the content of your application. As a result, you won't know whether the speed is adequate or if there is room for improvement.

Search Engine Friendliness

Long initial loading times aren't just a problem for users. Your users may be patient enough to wait for a page to load, but Google bots will not.

These bots are adept at indexing static HTML pages and do so quickly. The same cannot be said for using JavaScript to index pages. Like website visitors, bots must wait for a JavaScript file to be downloaded before displaying the page content. However, the duration of time bots spend on a single page is fixed. If your website does not load on time, bots will leave it unindexed and, as a result, unranked.

Parameters that derive Performance in Server-Side Rendering?

When it comes to better performance using server-side rendering in React then, these three significant parameters must be considered −

  • TTFB (Time To First Byte) − the time that passes between clicking on the link and receiving the first bit of content.

  • FCP (First Contentful Paint) − the point at which the requested content is rendered.

  • TTI (Time To Interactive) − the point at which the page becomes interactive.

Because a completely rendered HTML page is transmitted to the browser, TTFB can be higher, but FCP is significantly faster, improving performance and user−experience.

The amount of scripts needed to render a web page and its complexity can both have an impact on TTI. When rendered server− side, the majority of pages have a low TTI due to their moderate amount of interactivity.

SEO And Performance with SSR

We now understand how important SEO is for increasing traffic to websites. The majority of search engines, excluding Google, are now unable to render content before indexing. Client−side rendering is a problem that even Google runs with.

All of the elements needed for SEO are present in the initial response when using server−side rendering. Furthermore, because browsers give priority to pages that load quickly, server−side generated webpages are more correctly indexed.

In short, if your site is rendered on the server, it will rank higher in search results. On social media platforms, linking to websites with server−side rendering is preferable for adequately representing the site's title and thumbnail.

Let's Sum Up

As the world changes, we must keep up with the rapid technological changes. Server−side rendering in React is an excellent option for rendering web pages to improve initial page load speed, distribution of content, SEO, and user experience.

The best thing about server−side rendering in React is the availability of platforms and frameworks that make complex concepts easier to implement.

Updated on: 26-Oct-2023

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