What is Universal Rendering?

This article delves deeper into the workings of SPAs, SSRs, and the innovative Universal Rendering of Nuxt.

Michael Thiessen
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Modern web development has brought forth two main types of applications: Single Page Apps (SPA) and Server Side Rendered apps (SSR).

While each has its advantages, Nuxt offers a unique approach that combines the benefits of both types.

This article delves deeper into the workings of SPAs, SSRs, and the innovative Universal Rendering of Nuxt.

Single Page Apps

SPAs are very common in the realm of JavaScript frameworks such as Vue and React.

The primary benefit of SPAs is their fast navigation within the app, as a round trip to the server is not required. This is because most of the processing is done in the browser itself.

However, the initial page load can take longer, as the entire app must be loaded before any HTML can be rendered.

When you first visit the site, the server processes your request and sends back a bundle of JavaScript to run the app in your browser. As you click around, the app updates the rendered content without needing to request additional HTML or CSS from the server. It may fetch data, but only in its raw form.

Server Side Rendered Apps

SSR apps, more common with Laravel and Ruby on Rails, offer a different approach.

Most of the processing is done on the server side. When you visit a URL, the server processes your request and sends back the HTML and other necessary files to display the page. Clicking a link sends a new request to the server, which then provides a different set of HTML and files for the new page.

The main benefit of SSR is the lightning-fast initial page load.

The server can render the HTML immediately and send it back without delay. However, navigation within the app may be slower, as each new request must be processed by the server.

Nuxt's Universal Rendering: Combining SPA and SSR

Nuxt offers a unique solution to the limitations of SPAs and SSRs by combining their strengths. This approach, called Universal Rendering, provides the best of both worlds.

1. Lightning Fast First Page Load

On the first page load, Nuxt uses SSR to deliver a fast initial experience.

It processes the request on the server and sends back the HTML and other necessary files, similar to a traditional SSR app. This ensures that users are not kept waiting, which is particularly important for maintaining user engagement and optimizing search engine rankings.

2. Seamless Transition to SPA

However, Nuxt doesn't stop at the initial SSR.

It also loads the entire app as an SPA, so everything after the first page load is extremely quick. Once the initial page is loaded, Nuxt switches to SPA mode, allowing users to navigate within the app without needing to make round trips to the server.

3. Performance Enhancements and Optimizations

It's worth noting that Nuxt goes beyond simply combining SSR and SPA approaches. The framework also includes numerous performance enhancements and optimizations under the hood.

For example, Nuxt ensures that only necessary data is sent, and it intelligently prefetches data right before it's needed.

These optimizations, along with many others, contribute to the overall speed and efficiency of a Nuxt application. In essence, Nuxt provides a seamless user experience without sacrificing performance, offering developers the best of both SPA and SSR worlds.


Nuxt's Universal Rendering successfully combines the strengths of both Single Page Apps and Server Side Rendered apps to create a fast, efficient, and seamless user experience.

By utilizing SSR for the initial page load and switching to SPA for subsequent navigation, Nuxt offers a powerful solution for modern web development.

Michael Thiessen
Michael is a passionate full time Vue.js and Nuxt.js educator. His weekly newsletter is sent to over 11,000 Vue developers, and he has written over a hundred articles for his blog and VueSchool.

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