Changelog News – Episode #68

What will React come up with Next?

+ why (or why not) to use Next.js, NixOS reproducible builds & OpenSign


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The hubbub of the web dev world right now is Next.js’ integration of React Server Components, Kent C. Dodds writes up why he doesn’t use Next, Lee Robinson responds with why he does, the NixOS team hits a milestone in their reproducible builds effort & OpenSign is an open source alternative to DocuSign.



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Notes & Links

📝 Edit Notes

All links mentioned in this episode of Changelog News (and more) are in its companion newsletter.



📝 Edit Transcript


Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧

What up, nerds? I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the week of Monday, October 30th 2023.

Move over, T. Swift! Changelog Beats logged over 5k streams in our first week as an ‘artist’. Now if we could just get one of our tracks into a viral TikTok dance challenge…

Oh, and we’ll be at KubeCon NA 2023 next week! No booth this time, so you’ll have to reach out to meet up or hope you run into us wandering around in the hallways like everyone else.

Ok, let’s get into the news… which is admittedly web dev heavy this week.

The hubbub of the web dev world right now is Next.js’ integration of React Server Components, specifically the use server directive which lets you write React components that run SQL queries and presumably other server-side things.

People’s gut reaction to this has been all over the map. You may be having a guttural reaction right now. Maybe it sounds super powerful and expressive to you. Maybe it sounds super dangerous and sloppy. Me? It reminds me a lot of the index.php files we wrote at the turn of the century, which isn’t something I want in my life anymore… but I’m withholding judgment until I see more.

In the wake of this divisive news came criticism / acclaim for Next.js itself (even though it is the React team enabling/promoting the behavior). Which leads us to our next headlines…

Kent C. Dodds is a Remix guy, so it’s no surprise that he prefers it over Next. But he gets asked a lot why he prefers it, so he wrote down his reasonings, with the following disclaimer:

I like to focus most of my time and attention on the positive side of software development. I would much rather write a post titled “Why I Use Remix” and written about the things I love about Remix (I have already done this). But a lot of people have asked me specifically about Next.js and this post is for them

I’m not here to “bash on Next.js.” I’m just here to add an honest take of my personal perception and experience with Next.js. If you’d rather not hear negative things about Next.js, then I invite you to stop reading now, go outside, and touch some grass.

I’ll give you the bullet points and you can click through for the full explanations, if you’re interested:

  • Next.js doesn’t always use/promote the web platform
  • Next.js is attached to Vercel (both dev and easy deploy)
  • Next.js is eating React
  • Next.js has too much magic
  • Next.js is getting overly complex
  • Next.js favors features over stability

In response to Kent’s post, Lee Robinson (VP of DX at Vercel) makes the case for Next.js, with the following disclaimer:

Kent is an incredible member of the React community. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years (especially his material on testing) and this blog actually uses a library he created, mdx-bundler, so thank you.

If you’re new here, I’m Lee. I work on Next.js. I’ve also made some courses about using Next.js before I joined Vercel. Both Kent and I are passionate about the tools that we use…

I’m often asked about my opinions on Next.js versus other frameworks. This post is for the folks in the Next.js community who are wondering about some of the points Kent brings up.

I’ll give you the bullet points and you can click through for the full explanations, if you’re interested:

  • Learning Next.js helps you learn the web platform
  • All Next.js features work self-hosted
  • Server Components and Server Actions are independent of Vercel
  • The React canary channel is stable for frameworks like Next.js to adopt
  • Server Components are production ready

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The NixOS team has successfully perfomed a reproducabile build of a) All packages that make it into the ISO, and b) The building of the ISO itself. This is progress from the 2021 announcement, which only reproduced the individual packages. Why are Reproducible Builds important?

While there are a number of ‘side-benefits’, the main point of Reproducible Builds is that it gives us a reliable way to verify the binaries we ship are faithful to their sources, and have not been tampered with anywhere in the build pipeline (e.g. on Hydra).

They still haven’t arrived at the promised land yet, because there’s a lot more to to reap the benefits of reproducibility, such as removing a few hacks they put in to achieve this, making more packages reproducible, setting up infrastructure so they can regularly independently rebuild artifacts, and more. But, progress!

OpenSignLabs’ mission is to democratize the e-signing process, making it accessible and straightforward for everyone. The software currently features secure signing, a user-friendly interface, audit trails, and an API for integration into other software and services. Host it yourself (React, Node.js, MongoDB) or use their cloud hosted version.

That’s the news for now, but we have some great pods coming up this week! On Tuesday: Filippo Valsorda & Roland Shoemaker from the Go Team talk cryptography libraries on Go Time. On Wednesday: Jean Yang joins Adam and I for a deep-dive on API observability. Thursday brings Valerie Phoenix from Tech By Choice on JS Party and Friday: we have The mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder on Changelog & Friends

Have a great week, tell your friends about Changelog News if you dig it, and I’ll talk to you again real soon. 💚


Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚

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