Server-Side Rendering Vs Client-Side Rendering

Having delved into the differences between Reactjs and Nextjs, we shall now examine the disparities between server-side and client-side rendering.

Understanding the differences between these rendering concepts is key to choosing the right approach for your next project.

Server-Side Rendering Vs Client-Side Rendering

Introduction to Server Side Rendering (SSR) and Client Side Rendering (CSR)

In web development, rendering is crucial in how our web applications are presented to users.

Rendering is the process of generating a webpage, and it can be divided into two categories: server-side rendering (SSR) and client-side rendering (CSR).

In the simplest words, server-side rendering is web content rendering on the server side before it is sent to the client’s web browser, while client-side rendering is the approach where the necessary rendering is done on the client’s browser.

Rendering methods affect how quickly a user perceives that website content is loaded. They also influence website performance, SEO, and the overall user experience.

How Does Server-Side Rendering Work?

When a user requests a webpage, the server creates the full HTML for the page and sends it to the browser, which displays the rendered page to the user.

This method means that the server does most of the work, including processing the initial request, managing the necessary computations and database queries, and generating HTML.

The browser sends a request to the server during the initial request in server-side rendering. Having all the necessary resources, the server will process this request and produce a fully formulated HTML document. The processed request is sent back to the browser, which needs to display the HTML document on the screen.

The Advantages of Server-Side Rendering

One of the main advantages of SSR is that it provides a better SEO performance. As the server sends a fully composed HTML page to the client, search engine crawlers can scan and index the webpage easily, leading to better rankings in the search results.

Additionally, with server-side rendering, the initial page load is usually faster. This is because the server delivers the fully ready page to be displayed, reducing wait time. Users can quickly see the text, layout, colors, and navigation, which can significantly improve user experience.

The Disadvantages of Server-Side Rendering

However, there are disadvantages to server-side rendering too. For one, it increases the server load. Since the server is responsible for rendering and serving each request, servers can become overwhelmed during high-traffic periods, leading to slower page loads or server crashes.

Plus, server-side rendering does not provide the dynamic and interactive web applications modern users demand as much as client-side rendering does. Every time a user interacts with the site, a new request is made to the server, making the user experience less smooth and interactive.

How Does Client-Side Rendering Work?

In contrast, client-side rendering means the server sends a raw skeleton HTML to the browser, and JavaScript running on the client’s browser populates the HTML with the data. The initial load might take longer in this approach, but subsequent interactions are usually faster.

In the case of CSR, the browser sends a request to the server, and the server responds with a minimal HTML document and additional JavaScript files. This JavaScript then manipulates the HTML document, adding necessary elements, data, and structure. This results in a fully rendered webpage displayed in the browser.

The Advantages of Client-Side Rendering

One of the main advantages of client-side rendering is a smoother user interaction. Once the page has loaded, interactions such as clicks and navigation don’t require a full round trip to the server, leading to a more fluid user experience.

Moreover, the server remains unaffected during high traffic in CSR as rendering is done on the client’s end. This can lead to better website performance during peak traffic periods.

The Disadvantages of Client-Side Rendering

Just like SSR, CSR has its challenges. It heavily relies on the user’s computing power and the JavaScript engine in the browser for rendering webpages. This means that devices with limited processing power can struggle to render pages efficiently, leading to a slower user experience.

Another downside is its poor SEO performance. Since full-page content is not immediately available for the crawlers (it needs to be rendered in the browser first), websites employing CSR can struggle with visibility on search engine results.

Server Side vs Client Side Rendering: A Comparison

While SSR excels in SEO performance and initial load time, it lags in user interaction and demands more from servers. On the contrary, CSR provides smooth user interaction and consumes fewer server resources, but initially, it takes more time to load and challenges SEO efforts.

Despite the apparent trade-offs, recent technological advances have given rise to hybrid models such as Next.js, Gatsby that allow developers to utilize both SSR and CSR methodologies within the same application depending on the specific requirements of each page or component.

When to Use Server Side Rendering?

Server-side Rendering can be an excellent choice for websites focusing on SEO and a faster initial page load. SSR should be your go-to choice for static websites, blogs, news sites, or e-commerce stores where content is king.

When to Use Client Side Rendering?

CSR is great for applications where user interaction matters more than SEO. For applications needing fast and interactive UIs or real-time updates, like online games, chat apps, to-do apps, and interactive dashboards where the application communicates with the user instantly, CSR can offer a better user experience.

Real-world Applications of Both Techniques

Globally recognized platforms like WordPress, traditional e-commerce websites, and CMS platforms rely on server-side rendering. Conversely, more dynamic platforms like Angular, React, and Vue apps leverage the benefits of client-side rendering.

The Future of Rendering: Server Side or Client Side?

The future of rendering is not one-dimensional. CSR has gained massive popularity with the increasing popularity of SPAs (Single Page Applications) and PWAs (Progressive Web Applications). Yet, the advent of hybrid rendering, considering the best parts of both CSR and SSR, is another exciting prospect in the rendering world.

Server-Side Rendering Vs Client-Side Rendering. Which One to Choose?

It’s not a question of either-or, but rather which is best suited to the needs of your specific application. Companies should explore both techniques, understand their pros and cons, and pick the one that aligns with their website’s requirements. Thankfully, with hybrid solutions becoming more prevalent, developers have the flexibility to reap the benefits from both sides of the rendering coin.

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