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Frontend Development / JavaScript / Software Development

Redwood Framework ‘All in’ on React Server Components

The relatively new Redwood framework sees a path to developer adoption by supporting React Server Components in the next big release.
Nov 14th, 2023 6:53am by
Featued image for: Redwood Framework ‘All in’ on React Server Components
David Price, co-founder of Redwood, speaks at React Summit

Jersey City, NJ — Redwood, the full stack JavaScript/TypeScript web application framework, is going on all in React Server Components (RSC), framework co-founder David Price told audiences at the React Summit US on Monday.

RSC is a relatively new addition to React and was a big topic of conversation at this first US-based React Summit. RSCs are, as the name suggests, server components that enable data fetching, among other server-side functions. During a panel discussion on RSC, it was positioned as a simpler alternative to single-page apps (SPA), which have dominated frontend development in recent years. It does require JavaScript on the server, which may deter some potential adopters, the panel noted.

“RSC combines a simple request-response model with multipage apps,” Price said during his presentation. “[The React team] talked about this in the panel before lunch, if you recall, with the seamless interactivity of client-centric, single-page apps getting the best of both worlds, being able to shift back and forth from that server-centric model to the client-centric model, and to be able to, in some cases, merge those two mental models together into one.”

It may seem like a backward step, sending functionalities back to the server and away from the client, but Redwood co-founder Tom Preston-Werner encouraged audiences to think about it as a spiral that actually moves development forward while appearing to circle back around. Preston-Werner is the founder and former CEO of GitHub.

So far, Next.js is the only framework to offer RSC support, and even that is in the experimental phase.

It’s the data fetching that could be a game changer for Redwood, which Price acknowledged has struggled to find its niche, in part because the stack uses GraphQL. GraphQL has proven to be a barrier for developer adoption, despite Redwood’s efforts to make it simpler to deploy, he added. RSC is very complementary to GraphQL, he contended, but RSC means developers can use Redwood but data fetch from anywhere without knowing GraphQL. However, building on top of GraphQL means Redwood won’t have to add a different application router to support RSC, as Vercel had to do with Next.js.

“We think React Server Component will fit more readily into the Redwood framework than any other framework right now,” Price said.

Currently, the Redwood team is still building out support for RSC, although developers can already try out their experiments in canary versions. They plan to support RSC and SSR in its Bighorn Epoch (Redwood calls its major releases epochs).

That’s one of six pillars planned for Bighorn, along with:

  1. Deploy: unlock deploy + add first class for many more providers
  2. Startups at Scale: Grow with the startups using Redwood
  3. Full-stack Table Stakes: Add “missing” self-hosted features
  4. Getting Started UX to help onboard new developers
  5. Fundamentals: low-level work that’s critical for other features

In September, Redwood hosted its first user conference. At that event, they announced a number of changes, which Price highlighted during his presentation.

Among those is a Redwood mailer that allows developers to preview templates while coding within the framework. It also supports sending emails locally — so no more getting the intern to spam the organization testing a template, he quipped.

They also added Redwood Studio in the experimental stage. Redwood Studio is a command line observability tool that provides:

  • Tracing with Open Telemetry (service and GraphQL);
  • SQL statement logging;
  • General metrics; and
  • A GraphQL playground with impersonated authentication.
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