Build a Blog with Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi

By Sumeet Shroff
Last Updated On : January 29, 2024
Build a Blog with Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi

Creating a blog with Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi is a powerful combination that leverages the strengths of each technology to build a modern, stylish, and highly customizable blogging platform. This setup is ideal for developers looking for an efficient, scalable, and developer-friendly approach to blog creation.

We discuss the importance of blogging in the digital age and how the right stack can greatly influence the success and maintainability of a blog. We touch on the rise of JAMstack architecture and how combining Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi fits into this paradigm, offering speed, SEO benefits, and a rich user experience.

Overview of the Technology Stack

Building a modern blog requires a stack that's not only efficient and fast but also SEO-friendly and easy to manage. The combination of Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi offers a compelling solution for developers aiming to achieve these goals. Let's dive into each component of this technology stack to understand why they are excellent choices for developing a cutting-edge blogging platform.

Next.js

Next.js stands out as a React-based framework designed for building single-page JavaScript applications. It's renowned for its server-side rendering (SSR) capabilities, which are pivotal for SEO and improving the performance of web applications. Unlike traditional client-side rendered apps that rely on the browser to render content, SSR applications pre-render pages on the server, making the content immediately available to search engines and users. This approach significantly enhances the visibility of your blog to search engines, contributing to better search rankings.

Next.js also supports static site generation (SSG), where pages are pre-rendered at build time. This feature is ideal for a blog, as it allows for lightning-fast page loads and an excellent user experience. The framework's ability to seamlessly switch between SSR and SSG based on the page's requirements makes it a versatile choice for developers.

Additionally, Next.js comes with built-in routing, lazy loading, and image optimization features, further enhancing the performance and user experience of your blog.

Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS takes a different approach to styling web applications. It's a utility-first CSS framework that provides low-level utility classes to build custom designs directly in your markup. This approach speeds up the development process by reducing the back-and-forth between your stylesheets and HTML, allowing you to see style changes immediately.

The utility-first paradigm encourages reusability and helps in maintaining a consistent design system throughout the project. Tailwind CSS is highly customizable, making it easy to theme your blog to match your brand or design preferences. Its focus on responsive design ensures that your blog will look great on devices of all sizes with minimal effort.

Tailwind's JIT (Just-In-Time) mode compiles your CSS on the fly, only including the styles you use, which results in smaller CSS files and faster loading times for your blog.

Strapi

Strapi is a headless Content Management System (CMS) that provides a flexible and developer-friendly way to manage your blog's content. Being headless, Strapi decouples the content management from the presentation layer, allowing you to use any front-end technology (in this case, Next.js) to display your content.

Strapi offers a customizable admin panel where you can define your content types, such as blog posts, authors, and categories, according to your blog's needs. It provides RESTful or GraphQL APIs out of the box, making it easy to fetch your content from your Next.js application.

The CMS supports a variety of databases, including SQLite, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and MySQL, giving you the flexibility to choose the database that fits your project requirements. Strapi also has a vibrant plugin ecosystem that extends its functionalities, such as adding SEO management, comments, or social sharing features to your blog.

Strapi's role-based access control (RBAC) allows you to define permissions for different types of users, ensuring that only authorized users can edit or publish content on your blog.

Combining Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi offers a robust, scalable, and developer-friendly stack for building modern blogs. Next.js provides the foundation with its SEO-friendly rendering options, Tailwind CSS adds rapid and customizable styling capabilities, and Strapi brings in powerful content management features. Together, they create a seamless development experience that caters to the needs of both developers and content creators, making it an ideal choice for building next-generation blogs.

2. Setting Up the Development Environment

Setting up a robust development environment is the first step toward building your blog with Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi. This section will guide you through the process of installing the necessary tools, setting up your Next.js project, integrating Tailwind CSS, and preparing Strapi as your content management system.

Installing Node.js

Before you start, ensure you have Node.js installed on your system. Node.js is required to run JavaScript code outside of a browser, which is essential for Next.js and Strapi development.

Download Node.js: Visit the official Node.js website and download the LTS (Long-Term Support) version for your operating system. The LTS version is recommended for its stability and extended support.

Install Node.js: Run the downloaded installer and follow the prompts to install Node.js on your system. Include the npm package manager in the installation, as it's necessary for managing project dependencies.

Verify Installation: Open your terminal or command prompt and run the following commands to check if Node.js and npm are installed correctly:

node -v
npm -v

These commands should return the version numbers of Node.js and npm, indicating a successful installation.

Setting Up Next.js With Node.js installed, you can now set up your Next.js project.

Create Next.js App: Run the following command in your terminal to create a new Next.js project. Replace my-blog with your preferred project name.

npx create-next-app my-blog

This command creates a new directory named my-blog with a pre-configured Next.js setup.

Navigate to Your Project: Change your current directory to the newly created project folder:

cd my-blog

Run the Development Server: Start the Next.js development server to see your project in action:

npm run dev

Visit http://localhost:3000 in your web browser to see the default Next.js start page.

Adding Tailwind CSS Integrate Tailwind CSS into your Next.js project to utilize its utility-first styling.

Install Tailwind CSS: In your project directory, install Tailwind CSS and its peer dependencies via npm:

npm install tailwindcss postcss autoprefixer -D

Initialize Tailwind CSS: Generate the tailwind.config.js and postcss.config.js files by running:

npx tailwindcss init -p

Configure Tailwind for Next.js: Open the tailwind.config.js file and configure the purge option to remove unused styles in production. Update the content path to match Next.js pages and components:

module.exports = {
  purge: ['./pages/**/*.{js,ts,jsx,tsx}', './components/**/*.{js,ts,jsx,tsx}'],
  darkMode: false, // or 'media' or 'class'
    theme: {
        extend: {},
    },
    variants: {
    extend: {},
  },
  plugins: [],
};

Include Tailwind in Your CSS: In the styles/globals.css file, import Tailwind's base, components, and utilities styles by adding the following lines at the top:

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

Setting Up Strapi as the Backend Strapi will manage the content for your blog, acting as the backend.

Install Strapi: Use the following command to create a new Strapi project. Replace my-strapi-backend with your preferred project name.

npx create-strapi-app my-strapi-backend --quickstart

The --quickstart flag will set up Strapi with a SQLite database for ease of use.

Access the Strapi Admin Panel: Once Strapi is set up, it will automatically open the admin panel in your web browser. If it doesn't, you can access it by visiting http://localhost:1337/admin.

Create an Administrator Account: Follow the on-screen instructions to create an admin account for accessing the Strapi dashboard.

Customize Content Types: Use the Strapi admin panel to create and customize content types for your blog, such as "Articles", "Authors", and "Categories". Strapi's intuitive interface makes it easy to define the fields and relationships for your content types.

Configure API Permissions: In the Strapi admin panel, navigate to the "Roles & Permissions" section under "Settings" and configure the permissions for the Public role to define what content is accessible without authentication. This is crucial

  1. Building the Blog with Next.js and Tailwind CSS Once your development environment is set up with Next.js and Tailwind CSS, it's time to start building the core features of your blog. This section will guide you through structuring your blog, styling it with Tailwind CSS, and implementing dynamic routing for your blog posts.

Structuring the Blog Organizing your Next.js project effectively is crucial for maintainability and scalability. Here's how you can structure your blog:

Pages Directory: In Next.js, the pages directory is special. Each JS file under this directory becomes a route based on its file name. For example, pages/about.js is accessible at /about. Utilize this feature to create your blog's main pages like Home (index.js), About, Contact, etc.

Components Directory: Create a components directory to store reusable UI components such as Header, Footer, BlogPostCard, etc. Keeping components modular helps in managing and updating your UI more efficiently.

Styles Directory: While Tailwind CSS encourages utility-first styling directly within your JSX, for global styles or custom components styles that can't be covered by Tailwind, use the styles directory. globals.css is where you can import global styles and Tailwind's base styles.

Public Directory: Next.js serves static files like images from the public directory. Place your static assets such as images, favicons, and logos here.

Utils or Lib Directory: For utility functions or external services integration (like fetching data from Strapi), consider having a lib or utils directory. This can include functions for formatting dates, fetching API data, etc.

Styling with Tailwind CSS Tailwind CSS's utility-first approach can significantly speed up the development process. Here are some tips for styling your blog:

Start with Mobile: Tailwind encourages a mobile-first approach. Style your components for mobile and then progressively add responsive styles using Tailwind's responsive prefixes (e.g., md:text-lg for medium-size screens).

Customize Your Theme: Tailwind is highly customizable. Use tailwind.config.js to define your color palette, fonts, and other design tokens to ensure consistency across your blog.

Leverage Tailwind Plugins: Tailwind has a vibrant ecosystem of plugins. Explore plugins for typography, forms, and animations to enhance your blog's aesthetics and user experience.

Use @apply Directive: For components that share a common set of styles, use Tailwind's @apply directive in CSS files to keep your JSX clean and maintainable.

Dynamic Routing Next.js supports dynamic routing, which is essential for creating individual blog post pages based on their slugs or IDs. Here's how to set up dynamic routing for your blog posts:

Create a Dynamic Route: In the pages directory, create a folder named posts (or whatever suits your blog's URL structure). Inside posts, create a file named [slug].js. The square brackets indicate that slug is a dynamic segment.

Fetching Data: Inside [slug].js, use Next.js's getStaticPaths function to return a list of possible values for slug. Then, use getStaticProps to fetch the individual blog post data from Strapi based on the slug.

Rendering the Post: Use the fetched data to render the blog post content within your [slug].js component. You can style the post content using Tailwind CSS classes and integrate comments, likes, or other interactive elements as needed.

Linking to Posts: Use Next.js's Link component to link to individual posts from your homepage or blog listing page. The href prop should point to the dynamic route, passing the post's slug or id as a dynamic segment (e.g., /posts/${post.slug}).

By structuring your blog effectively, utilizing Tailwind CSS for styling, and implementing dynamic routing, you'll create a robust, scalable, and visually appealing blog platform with Next.js. This foundation sets the stage for integrating Strapi for content management, which will be covered in the next steps of building your blog.

  1. Integrating Strapi with Next.js Integrating Strapi with Next.js bridges your front-end with the back-end, allowing you to manage and display blog content dynamically. This section will guide you through fetching data from Strapi, setting up API routes in Next.js for various CRUD operations, and implementing authentication to secure blog post management.

Fetching Data from Strapi To display blog posts on your Next.js blog, you need to fetch data from Strapi. Here's how to do it:

API Endpoint: First, determine the API endpoint provided by Strapi for your blog posts. It's usually in the format of http://localhost:1337/posts if you're running Strapi locally.

Fetching Posts for Listing: Use Next.js's getStaticProps function in your pages (e.g., index.js for the home page) to fetch blog posts from Strapi at build time, ensuring fast page loads and SEO friendliness. Here's an example:

javascript Copy code export async function getStaticProps() { const res = await fetch('http://localhost:1337/posts'); const posts = await res.json();

return { props: { posts }, }; } In your component, you can then map through the posts array to display each post's title, excerpt, and link to the full post.

Fetching a Single Post: For dynamic routes (e.g., [slug].js), use getStaticPaths to define all available slugs and getStaticProps to fetch individual post data based on the slug.

javascript Copy code // This function gets called at build time to generate paths for all posts export async function getStaticPaths() { const res = await fetch('http://localhost:1337/posts'); const posts = await res.json();

const paths = posts.map((post) => ({ params: { slug: post.slug }, }));

return { paths, fallback: false }; }

// Fetch individual post data based on the slug export async function getStaticProps({ params }) { const { slug } = params; const res = await fetch(http://localhost:1337/posts?slug=${slug}); const data = await res.json(); const post = data[0];

return { props: { post } }; } Setting Up API Routes in Next.js Next.js allows you to create API routes that can act as a proxy between your front-end and Strapi, ideal for handling CRUD operations securely.

Create API Routes: Inside the pages/api directory, you can define your API endpoints. For instance, pages/api/posts/index.js could handle fetching all posts, and pages/api/posts/[id].js could deal with individual post operations (GET, UPDATE, DELETE).

CRUD Operations: Within these API route files, you can set up functions to handle different HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) corresponding to CRUD operations. Use fetch to communicate with Strapi from these API routes, passing along any necessary headers or authentication tokens.

Securing API Routes: Ensure that operations like creating, updating, or deleting posts are protected. Validate the request's authentication token and check user permissions before processing these operations.

Authentication To manage blog posts, you'll need a secure authentication system. Next.js and Strapi offer several options:

Strapi Authentication: Utilize Strapi's built-in authentication system to register users and manage logins. Strapi provides JWT (JSON Web Tokens) for secure authentication.

Next.js Authentication: For the front end, consider using NextAuth.js, a library for Next.js that simplifies building authentication systems. It supports various providers and can be integrated with Strapi's JWT tokens.

Securing Content Management: Implement access controls in your Next.js application to ensure that only authenticated users can access post management interfaces. Use Next.js middleware or page guards to check authentication status and redirect unauthorized users.

Integrating Authentication into API Routes: In your Next.js API routes, validate the JWT token from Strapi to secure CRUD operations. You can decode the JWT token to verify the user's identity and permissions before allowing any modifications to the blog content.

By fetching data from Strapi, setting up API routes for CRUD operations, and implementing secure authentication, you'll create a dynamic and secure blogging platform with Next.js and Strapi. This setup not only provides a seamless content management experience but also ensures that your blog is scalable and maintainable in the long run.

Deploying Your Blog After developing your blog with Next.js and Strapi, the next step is to deploy it to make it accessible on the internet. This section will cover the deployment process for both the Next.js front end and the Strapi back end, ensuring your blog is live and reachable by your audience.

Next.js Deployment Next.js applications can be deployed to various hosting platforms, but Vercel (the creators of Next.js) offers the most seamless experience for Next.js projects.

Deploying to Vercel Sign Up/Login: If you haven't already, sign up or log in to Vercel. You can use a GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket account for easy integration with your project repository.

Import Your Project: Once logged in, import your Next.js project repository. Vercel will automatically detect that it's a Next.js application and provide the necessary build settings.

Configure Your Project: Adjust the project settings if needed, such as specifying environment variables. For instance, you might need to set API URLs or keys that your application uses to communicate with Strapi or other services.

Deploy: After configuration, deploy your project. Vercel will build your Next.js application and provide a unique URL to access it. You can also configure a custom domain in the Vercel dashboard.

Continuous Deployment: Vercel offers continuous deployment. Every time you push changes to your linked repository branch, Vercel automatically deploys the updates, ensuring your blog is always up-to-date.

Other Hosting Platforms If you prefer other platforms like Netlify, AWS Amplify, or a traditional cloud server, the process involves building your Next.js application locally or in a CI/CD pipeline and then deploying the out directory (for static sites generated using next export) or using a Node.js server for SSR applications.

Strapi Deployment Deploying Strapi involves a bit more consideration due to database connections and potentially higher server requirements, depending on your blog's traffic.

Deploying to Heroku Prepare Your Strapi Project: Ensure your Strapi project is ready for production by configuring environment-specific settings (e.g., database configurations, API security settings).

Create a Heroku App: If you don't have a Heroku account, create one. Then, use the Heroku Dashboard or the Heroku CLI to create a new app.

Database Setup: For a production environment, it's recommended to use a more robust database like PostgreSQL. Heroku offers add-ons like Heroku Postgres which can be easily integrated with your Strapi app.

Environment Variables: Set necessary environment variables in Heroku, such as database credentials, Node environment (NODE_ENV as production), and any other API keys or secrets your Strapi app uses.

Deploy: Deploy your Strapi application to Heroku using Git or by connecting your GitHub repository for automatic deployments. Heroku will detect your app type and run the build process accordingly.

Post-Deployment: After deployment, ensure your Strapi admin panel is accessible and re-build your Strapi admin UI if necessary.

Conclusion Throughout this blog, we've explored the powerful combination of Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi to build a modern, efficient, and customizable blogging platform. We began with an overview of each technology, highlighting Next.js for its SEO-friendly server-side rendering capabilities, Tailwind CSS for its utility-first approach to styling, and Strapi for its flexible content management as a headless CMS.

We then walked through setting up the development environment, laying the foundation for our blog with the installation of Node.js, creation of a Next.js project, integration of Tailwind CSS for styling, and preparation of Strapi as our backend content management system.

Building the blog involved structuring our Next.js project for scalability, employing Tailwind CSS to rapidly style our components with a consistent design system, and implementing dynamic routing to handle individual blog posts. This structure not only makes our blog visually appealing but also ensures a seamless user experience.

Integrating Strapi with Next.js allowed us to fetch and display dynamic content, set up API routes for CRUD operations to manage our blog posts, and incorporate authentication to secure content management. This integration demonstrates the flexibility and power of combining a headless CMS with a modern frontend framework.

Deploying our blog was the final step, where we covered the process of making our Next.js application live on platforms like Vercel and deploying our Strapi backend to cloud services such as Heroku or AWS. This ensures our blog is accessible to a wide audience and operates smoothly in a production environment.

Encouragement to Experiment This stack offers a robust starting point, but the true potential lies in your hands. I encourage you to experiment with these technologies, customize them to fit your unique needs, and explore the vast ecosystem of plugins and modules available. Whether you're aiming to add more interactive elements, integrate additional services, or enhance the overall design, the flexibility of this stack supports endless possibilities for innovation and creativity.

Invitation for Feedback and Discussion Your thoughts, experiences, and insights are invaluable. I invite you to share your feedback, questions, or any challenges you've encountered while working with this stack in the comments section below or through social media. Let's foster a collaborative community where we can learn from each other, share best practices, and collectively push the boundaries of what we can build with Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Strapi.

Building a blog with these technologies not only sharpens your development skills but also opens up a world of possibilities for creating dynamic, high-performing web applications. So dive in, start building, and let's shape the future of web development together!

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