Our goal here was to explore server-side rendering (SSR) in Next.js using data from Apollo GraphQL, for faster client-rendering and SEO benefits.

There are a variety of approaches, but Shaw has set his sights on a very developer-ergonomic version here where you can leave queries on individual components and mark them as SSR-or-not.

There are two “official” approaches:

  1. Apollo’s documentation
  2. Next.js’ example

These are sorta-kinda-OK, except…

These limitations are workable in some situations, but we want to avoid duplicating code and also have server-side rendered queries that aren’t top-level on the page.

A probably-better approach is to use the getDataFromTree method, which walks down the tree and executes the queries to fill up the ApolloClient cache. We got this from a two-year old Gist from Tylerian showing a way to integrate getDataFromTree into Next.js. Tylerian’s gist had some extra complications that might’ve been due to older Next.js limitations, but the overall process was sound:

  1. Create a shared ApolloClient instance
  2. Render the page using getDataFromTree() to fill the cache with data
  3. Render the page again with that data using Next’s Document.getInitialProps()
  4. Extract the cache to deliver with the page and hydrate the client-side Apollo cache

The benefits:

Here’s a repo with Shaw’s findings.