i've used both nextjs and cra. both these frameworks can be used to get started quickly and provide a good developer experience. however, both of these have use cases where either of them shines better. i'll try to compare them based on some of these factors. feel free to suggest edits with additional points or comments
server side rendering
|cra doesn't support ssr out of the box.
however, you can still configure it.
it just takes more effort to setup ssr with your preferred server and configuration. the development team doesn't have plans to support this in the near future. they suggest other tools for this use case.
|nextjs has different types for ssr. it supports ssr out of the box.
* static generation: fetch data at build time. this works best for use cases like blogs or static websites
* server side rendering: fetch data and render for each requests. you have to do this when you need to serve different view for different users.
i think this is point where these tools are very different and your decision can depend on this factor
|create react app doesn't leave you a lot of room to configure it.
configurations like webpack config cannot be changed unless
you stray away from normal cra way (eject, rescripts, rewired, craco).
basically, you have to use what's configured in
|almost everything is configurable.
if you check the example nextjs templates, you can see files like
that you can configure.
|cra is very opinionated.
if you keep updated with the releases of cra, it's not hard to maintain.
|nextjs is also well maintained. they release regular updates.|
|supports out of the box. you can initialize cra app with typescript with
||supports typescript out of the box.
start with configurations for typescript with
latest version of both cra and nextjs installs a version of react that supports hooks. you can also upgrade to the latest version easily
redux is a library that you can use with both these tools.
this conundrum is true for many opensource projects. seem alternative of other but they have key differences. for example in this case although both projects use reactjs as front end and produce webapps. the problem they solve are very distinct. there are some overlapping features themes/templates in js. but development and future work will be to enhance project such that it helps solve there problem statement in better way.
i.e. nextjs will try to include if there are any new markdown features developed. which won't be the case in createreactapps.
from your question it seems you are looking these projects for developing react native apps. so i will suggest go with create react app.
your comparison should primarily be whether this project align with problem i am solving. then compare. maintainability, scalability, typescript and react hooks/redux support.
in case needed more info do comment.
create react app is just a react project creation engine to help you setup your react project quickly. after running the cra script
npx create-react-app <appname> you will get a nice and clean single-page application that you can run. under the hood you also get things like babel, eslint, jest, webpack already setup so it's a really convenient way to start doing react development. and in case you'd need more control over the configuration of those tools, you can still use
npm run eject.
next.js on the other hand is a framework based on react to build node.js server-side apps. this means you will use the same component-oriented logic to build pages and leverage the next.js routing engine for page to page navigation. server-side rendering will allow loading time to be more spread over time, so perceived performance will be probably better. redux can be used as well but there will be some additional steps to make it work properly (see https://github.com/kirill-konshin/next-redux-wrapper)
whatever you choose, in the end, it will be react coding. components, jsx, typescript support, react hooks, and all other core aspects of react will be supported either way. therefore, you can expect similar degree of maintainability. on the other hand, scalability depends on your choice: if you choose next.js you will host the app on a server infrastructure which should be sized according to your audience whereas react bundle created with cra just need to be statically hosted somewhere.
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