Single Page Application (SPA) Development with Nuxt.js: A Quick Review

Single Page Applications (SPAs) have proven to be game-changers in the domain of frontend web development. Ever since the advent of SPAs, the web ecosystem has experienced a significant positive drift in terms of speed, performance, code quality, reliability, and scalability. 

This change in ecosystem was possible because of the many advanced frontend development frameworks and libraries, one of which is Vue. Vue.js is a progressive JavaScript framework that is aimed at facilitating component-based application development and creating UI widgets. 

Content management systems (CMS) have also gone through a revolution with the introduction of front-end agnostic, headless CMS. Looking at the growth within this domain, many developers are looking to use headless CMS platforms with new front-end technologies to produce an end-to-end product, and a Vue-based technology like Nuxt is certainly one of them. 

When combined with headless platform such as CrafterCMS, Nuxt can provide a framework to build highly-performant web applications and SPAs. This article is an introductory review of NuxtJS, a powerful framework on top of Vue for building modern web applications.

A Brief Overview of Vue.js

Vue.js is a powerful progressive framework that was first released in February 2014. It is an open-source development technology based on the MVVM (Model-View-View-Model) architecture. 

Vue is very lightweight and comes highly recommended, especially for building user interfaces and rapid prototypes. Like every other popular front-end framework, Vue also builds on the component-based approach to create scalable user interfaces and single-page applications in general. 

Vue is typically referred to as a mixture of Angular and React in the software industry, and Evan You, the creator of Vue.js, also mentions in an interview that his first attempt towards creating Vue was to take out the best things that Angular had to offer and package them into a lightweight, yet powerful, technology to create less redundant prototypes during his tenure at Google. 

Vue.js has a highly stable and logical architecture that is ready to deal with the scaling needs of the framework. Components, routing, state management, reactive programming; are also the basic building blocks in the Vue architecture necessary to design and create a full-fledged SPA. 

Since Vue.js claims to be an ideal framework to design standalone UI components and use them independently, it has vast support for styling and animation. It encourages the use of scoped CSS so that components and their styles can scale independently, without any tightly coupled dependencies. 

NuxtJS: An Extension to Vue.js

As mentioned earlier, NuxtJS  is a powerful open-source web application development framework that is built on top of Vue.js. It has all the capabilities that Vue.js brings and offers a wide range of additional features and functionality that contribute towards the developer experience and, most importantly, application performance. 

If Vue.js was already there in the market, why did anyone feel the need to create an extension framework derived from it?

Well, to answer that simply, Nuxt supports multiple other key functionality such as Server-Side Rendering (SSR), SEO, advanced boilerplate code and modules, easy routing, and meta tag management.

Using SSR, the Nuxt framework makes sure any web page is rendered on the server itself and just passed to the browser as a statically generated page. 

This approach improves application performance and offers one great advantage in terms of application searchability, i.e. SEO improvement. Modern SEO parsers are designed in a way that as soon as the website DOM is loaded, they parse the DOM and decide rankings based on the available information in the DOM. 

This way, if the application fetches important pieces of information via Ajax calls, they are not yet available for the SEO parsers because of their asynchronous nature. As soon as the DOM gets loaded, SEO parsers perform their part while the asynchronous Ajax calls are still in process.

With SSR, this issue gets resolved because the web page is processed and rendered on the server and just delivered to the browser as a static web page so that the browser can take the necessary actions to generate the DOM. 

Keep in mind that the DOM is not loaded yet; as soon as the browser gets the server’s response, the DOM gets loaded, and the SEO parser immediately comes into action. This time, the SEO parser has more and relevant information as per the application’s scope, and hence ranks the web page accordingly, resulting in an improved SEO score.

Key Features of NuxtJS

Although Nuxt and Vue share a common architecture, some interesting features often draw a decisive line between both when it comes to framework selection for enterprise-level applications.

Universal Apps

Out of many interesting features of Nuxt, one of the most important features is that it easily allows you to create manageable universal apps. Universal apps are not easy to develop because there are many configuration issues that need to be settled for both client-side and server-side rendering. Nuxt provides an effective framework for dealing with such issues and allows developers to create universal apps much more easily. The lifecycle hooks also play an integral part throughout the process. 

Effective Starter Template

NuxtJS provides an amazing boilerplate code with a starter-template command using the CLI. The template contains prerequisite components and configurations with necessary functional routing in order to speed up the development process and save your development time by reducing redundant tasks.

File System Routing

One of the key benefits which Nuxt offers is that it automatically generates a routing mechanism based on the project structure. When you create a new .vue file in the pages directory, its working route will also be generated with minimal extra configuration (if required at all). This again saves manual effort and contributes towards saving development time and effort.

NuxtJS Components

NuxtJS comes with various prebuilt components which serve their respective purposes. For instance, the Nuxt component is used to display page components, NuxtChild component is used to display the child components in a situation where nesting routing is configured, and the NuxtLink component proves beneficial when it comes to navigating within the pages of your application. 

Apart from that, the developer gets to experience a clear distinction between client-side and server-side components using the component properties. Hence, it improves the developer choices, decisions, and experience. 

Data Fetching

To facilitate both client-side and server-side rendering, Nuxt comes with two kinds of approaches. For the client-side rendering, Nuxt uses conventional Vue patterns to achieve that, whereas to accommodate server-side rendering, “Nuxt specific hooks” come into the picture. Two such kinds of hooks are “fetch” and “asyncData”. 

Building SPAs with CrafterCMS and Nuxt

NuxtJS is a robust framework built on top of Vue to offer a smooth single-page web application development experience. When coupled with Crafter’s headless+ architecture that supports SSR, developers have all the tools necessary to build dynamic SPAs that enhance the user experience and meet modern web experience standards (performance, SEO, scalability, reliability, security, among others).

Learn more about how CrafterCMS makes it easy for both Vue/Nuxt developers and content teams to work together to create engaging content experiences with CrafterCMS: A Headless CMS for SPAs.