Optimizing UI Performance: Comparing Client-Side and Server-Side Rendering Approaches

Webix JavaScript UI library
4 min readOct 20, 2023

When it comes to developing robust and interactive user interfaces, the choice of UI libraries plays a significant role. Two popular approaches in this domain are client-side and server-side UI libraries. Each approach has its own strengths and considerations, and understanding the differences between them is crucial for making informed decisions. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, advantages, and use cases of client-side and server-side UI libraries to help you choose the right approach for your project.

Client-side UI Libraries

Client-side UI libraries are primarily used for building user interfaces that run and execute on the client-side (in the user’s web browser). They are responsible for handling the presentation layer and user interactions.

The UI logic and rendering are performed on the client-side, utilizing the resources and processing power of the user’s device.

Advantages

Performance and Responsiveness:
Client-side libraries leverage the processing power of the user’s device, allowing for fast rendering and immediate UI updates. This results in a highly responsive user experience, as changes happen without requiring server round-trips.

Rich Interactivity:
With client-side libraries, developers can create highly interactive interfaces, incorporating features like real-time updates, form validation, and smooth animations. They provide a robust foundation for building modern, single-page applications (SPAs) that feel more like desktop applications.

Reduced Server Load:
Client-side libraries offload the UI rendering and logic to the user’s device, reducing the server load and bandwidth requirements. This is particularly advantageous when dealing with a large user base or limited server resources.

Disadvantages

Difficulties with the speed on mobile devices. This happens because the JavaScript files have to be loaded on the client side, which may take some time. Mobile devices and disruptions of the Internet connection may cause poor performance. However, this issue may be solved with the help of code separation.

Most well-known client-side UI libraries

Webix is a full client side UI library. It can be used with any backend technology and provide PHP, Java, .Net connectors to help you integrate your web app with these client side technologies.

Vue.js is a progressive and widely used JS framework for creating web user interfaces. It provides detailed documentation and a wide ecosystem.

jQuery was designed to simplify JavaScript coding process. It takes JavaScript code that could have several lines and accomplishes them into one line of code.

Server-Side UI Libraries

Server-side UI libraries are designed for generating and rendering UI components on the server and sending the resulting HTML/CSS to the client. They handle the server-side rendering (SSR) of the user interface.

The UI rendering and logic occur on the server, and the resulting HTML is sent to the client for display.

Advantages

Initial Page Load and SEO:
Server-side rendering (SSR) provided by these libraries improves the initial page load time, as the server generates the HTML content upfront. Additionally, search engines can index the server-rendered content more effectively, enhancing search engine optimization (SEO) for your web application.

Performance on Low-End Devices:
Server-side rendering is beneficial for devices with limited processing power, as the heavy lifting of UI rendering is done on the server. This ensures a smoother experience for users accessing your application from low-end devices or with slow internet connections.

Accessibility and Compatibility:
Server-side rendering ensures that your application is compatible across different browsers and provides better accessibility to users who rely on assistive technologies. By rendering the UI on the server, you eliminate the need for extensive client-side JavaScript execution.

Disadvantages

The formation of a page on the server takes time. The server has to produce a new page for every new interaction with a user. As a result, the loading time can increase and there may appear issues with the app responsiveness.

Most well-known server-side UI libraries

Go.js is a framework for the fast creation of interactive diagrams. The diagrams can be built with JavaScript and Typescript. The framework supports all popular modern frameworks (React, Angular, Vue).

Node.js is an open-source JavaScript solution. It can be successfully used to create real-time web apps, as well as browser games.

Next.js is another open-source platform offers a React front-end framework. Pre-rendering a page at request time or build time is possible.

Here’s a comparison table to highlight the similarities and differences between client-side and server-side UI libraries:

Choosing the Right Approach

The choice between client-side and server-side UI libraries depends on various factors, including project requirements, performance considerations, and specific use cases. Here are a few guidelines to help you make an informed decision:

  • Choose client-side UI libraries when you require rich interactivity, real-time updates, and a responsive user experience. This approach is suitable for building SPAs, web applications with complex user interfaces, and when server resources are limited.
  • Opt for server-side UI libraries when you prioritize initial page load time, SEO, and better compatibility across different devices and browsers. This approach is ideal for content-heavy websites, blogs, and applications where accessibility and search engine visibility are critical.
  • Consider hybrid approaches that leverage the best of both worlds. Some UI libraries, like React and Vue.js, offer the flexibility to switch between client-side and server-side rendering based on specific pages or components within your application.

Conclusion

Client-side and server-side UI libraries offer distinct advantages and are suitable for different scenarios. By understanding the characteristics and strengths of each approach, you can make an informed decision when selecting the right UI library for your project. Whether you prioritize interactivity and responsiveness or focus on initial page load time and compatibility, the choice between client-side and server-side UI libraries will shape the user experience and performance of your application.

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Webix JavaScript UI library

#JavaScript UI library for #cross-platform #web app development with 100+ #UI widgets and fully-featured #CSS / #HTML5 JavaScript controls. www.webix.com