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getServerSideProps: Improving Server-Side Rendering in Next.js

  • avatar
    Roy Bakker

When working with Next.js and need to fetch data on each request, the function to turn to is getServerSideProps. This function allows me to pre-render a page with dynamic data fetched from an external API at request time, making it highly useful for server-side rendering.

Using getServerSideProps in Next.js provides several advantages. It ensures that data is always up-to-date and serves as an excellent choice for pages with frequently changing information. The function signature is straightforward, and the context parameter offers access to various request-specific details.

In practical terms, getServerSideProps is a key tool in building dynamic, data-rich applications. By incorporating it into my development process, I can handle scenarios like user authentication effectively. This makes sure that only authenticated users can access certain pages, enhancing security and personalization within my application.

Understanding getServerSideProps

getServerSideProps is a function used in Next.js to fetch data and render pages at request time, allowing for dynamic and real-time updates. Below, I will explain the key aspects of getServerSideProps, including its fundamentals, working with async functions, and how to handle the props object when fetching data.

Fundamentals of getServerSideProps

The getServerSideProps function is essential for server-side rendering (SSR) in Next.js. This method ensures that data fetching happens on the server each time a page is requested. By doing so, it provides the necessary data before rendering the page in the user's browser.

One of the primary advantages is its ability to handle dynamic data updates efficiently. This means that any changes to the data between requests will be reflected immediately when the page is reloaded. By exporting getServerSideProps from a page component, I can fetch data, process it on the server, and pass it to the component as props.

Working with Async Functions

getServerSideProps can work seamlessly with async functions. Since data fetching often involves asynchronous operations such as API calls, wrapping your server-side code within an async function ensures smoother and more efficient operations.

To use async functions, I define getServerSideProps as an async function and use the await keyword to handle promises. This allows me to fetch data from third-party APIs or databases and wait for the results before passing them to the page component. Below is an example of how to use an async getServerSideProps:

export async function getServerSideProps() {
  const res = await fetch('')
  const data = await res.json()
  return { props: { data } }

The Props Object and Fetching Data

The props object returned by getServerSideProps is crucial as it directly influences what the page component receives and renders. This object must be serializable because Next.js uses JSON.stringify to pass data from the server to the client.

When fetching data, I ensure that the data structure is simple and straightforward. This involves converting nested or complex objects into flat, plain objects when necessary. The returned object might look like this:

return {
  props: {
    products: data.products,
    categories: data.categories,

By ensuring the props object is well-defined and easily serializable, I can optimize both performance and user experience. Using getServerSideProps effectively allows for real-time updates and data consistency across user sessions, making it a powerful tool for dynamic web applications.

Executing Server-Side Logic

When implementing getServerSideProps, it's crucial to focus on handling the request and response, managing authorization and headers, and efficiently interacting with APIs and databases. These aspects ensure a seamless and secure data-fetching process.

Handling Request and Response

In getServerSideProps, I handle the req and res objects as they carry crucial request and response information. The request object (req) provides details like URL parameters, headers, and cookies. This information is vital for customizing the response.

Using the response object (res), I can send back various status codes and responses. For instance, setting headers or redirecting users based on specific conditions ensures a dynamic and efficient server-side rendering process. Correct handling of these objects guarantees accurate and tailored data delivery to the client.

Authorization and Headers

Authorization is paramount in securing server-side logic. By examining authorization headers from the req object, I can verify user identity and access levels. Implementing token-based authentication or utilizing cookies helps enforce security measures.

For sensitive data transactions, including custom headers in API requests ensures the secure transfer of information. Proper handling of these headers not only protects data but also confirms that the server side responds appropriately based on user credentials.

Interacting with APIs and Databases

Interacting with APIs and databases within getServerSideProps is essential for data fetching. Using fetch or libraries like axios, I can make API requests directly from the server, ensuring up-to-date data. This process is beneficial for real-time applications where data consistency is critical.

Connecting to databases such as MongoDB or PostgreSQL allows dynamic content delivery. By performing queries directly on the server, I can optimize data fetching, reduce client-side load, and improve overall performance. This interaction ensures that the rendered page contains the most relevant and accurate information for the end-user.

Page Rendering and Redirections

Using getServerSideProps, I can control how my pages are rendered and handle various redirection scenarios effectively. This capability ensures that my application delivers up-to-date data and navigates users appropriately based on different conditions.

Controlling Page Rendering

The function getServerSideProps allows me to fetch data on each request, ensuring that my page component displays the most current information. When the server executes this function, it can pre-render the page with data retrieved from an API or database.

This is particularly useful for dynamic content like product listings that change frequently. By exporting getServerSideProps from my page component, I can pass props directly to my component, ensuring fresh data without requiring additional client-side fetches.

Redirects and Not Found

Redirects can be managed effectively using the redirect property within getServerSideProps. If certain conditions are met—such as a non-existent product—I can programmatically redirect the user to a different page using a simple object structure that includes the destination URL.

For handling non-existent data, I can return a notFound property. This will cause Next.js to render a 404 page, providing a clear indication to the user that the requested resource is unavailable. Combining these techniques ensures smooth navigation and enhances the user experience, maintaining the integrity of my application's data flow.

Advanced Features and Best Practices

Understanding the advanced features and best practices of getServerSideProps is essential for optimizing your Next.js applications. This includes how to effectively use preview mode, manage performance and SEO, and handle errors and edge cases.

Preview Mode and Cookies

Preview mode enables you to draft and review changes on your site before publishing them. This is crucial for content management systems and marketing teams. I use cookies to manage preview sessions, setting a preview cookie when initiating preview mode. The params and query parameters remain accessible, allowing me to fetch draft content.


export const getServerSideProps = async (context) => {
  const { preview } = context
  if (preview) {
    // Fetch and return draft content
  // Fetch and return published content

When the preview mode is active, the use of cookies ensures that content remains in draft view, even if the user navigates away from the current page.

Performance and SEO Considerations

Performance and SEO are pivotal for a successful web application. To enhance performance, I leverage caching strategies like stale-while-revalidate and Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR). This technique allows for serving cached data while revalidating in the background, ensuring that users see the most up-to-date content without significant load times.

From an SEO perspective, server-side rendering (SSR) through getServerSideProps provides fully rendered HTML to search engines. This improves crawlability and indexing, positively affecting search rankings. Careful management of params and query helps in fetching precisely the needed data, thereby reducing payload size and improving load times.

Error Handling and Edge Cases

Effective error handling ensures a robust user experience. I always account for potential issues such as API failures or missing parameters. Utilizing try-catch blocks within getServerSideProps allows me to gracefully handle errors, displaying user-friendly messages or fallback content.


export const getServerSideProps = async (context) => {
  try {
    const data = await fetchData(context)
    return { props: { data } }
  } catch (error) {
    return { props: { error: 'Data fetch failed' } }

Handling edge cases also includes validating input data from params and query. By sanitizing and validating this data, I prevent potential security vulnerabilities and ensure that the application runs smoothly under a variety of conditions.

Integration and Configuration

Integrating getServerSideProps into a Next.js application involves several configuration options and environment variables. In addition, handling dynamic routes and prefetching can enhance user experience.

Configuration Options and Environment Variables

Configuring getServerSideProps effectively ensures smooth data fetching. I typically set API endpoints and secrets as environment variables. Using environment variables helps keep sensitive information secure and enables different configurations for development, staging, and production environments.

In Next.js, I create a .env file:


I then use process.env to access these variables in my getServerSideProps function:

export async function getServerSideProps() {
  const res = await fetch(`${process.env.API_URL}/data?key=${process.env.API_KEY}`)
  const data = await res.json()
  return { props: { data } }

Using these environment variables keeps the configuration secure and manageable across various environments.

Dynamic Routes and Prefetching

For dynamic routes and prefetching, getServerSideProps proves highly effective. I dynamically generate URLs based on parameters, allowing tailored content.

Here's an example with a dynamic route:

// pages/[id].js
export async function getServerSideProps(context) {
  const { id } = context.params
  const res = await fetch(`${id}`)
  const item = await res.json()
  return { props: { item } }

I use context.params to fetch the specific data based on the route. For prefetching, I leverage the next/link component, which prefetches pages linked in my application:

import Link from 'next/link'
;<Link href="/item/[id]" as={`/item/${id}`}>
  <a>View Item</a>

Prefetching ensures that navigation between pages is smooth and fast, providing an enhanced user experience.