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How Next.js Redirects Work
9 min read

How Next.js Redirects Work

Introduction

The concept of URL redirection in web application development is one that is ubiquitous. We experience it almost every time during our usage of the internet. Think about the last time you were trying to sign up on a website and they asked you to sign up with Google. Remember all the pop-ups and redirects that happen before you're finally signed up to the website? Yeah, that's a typical example of URL redirection in web app development.

In this article, we'll examine the concept of URL redirection in Next.js, you'll learn how Next.js redirects work, how to implement them in your next project and everything else you need to know about Next.js redirects. Now, let's get started!

Steps we'll cover:

Prerequisites

Before you continue with this article, you'll need to have a Next.js 13 app or above running that you can use to try out the code examples in this article.

The app in this tutorial is bootstrapped with create-next-app.

What is URL Redirection?

URL Redirection is a technique used in web development for automatically changing the URL of a website from one to another. Redirects are implemented in web development using the 3XX HTTP status codes. For example, a 301 status code implies the URL you requested has moved permanently.

Some common use cases for performing URL redirects include:

  • Link shortening
  • User authentication
  • A/B Testing
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Website migration
  • Website maintenance or redesign

There are two most widely used methods of redirecting in web development:

  1. Permanent redirection: This method which uses a 301 HTTP status code is used to indicate that a URL you're requesting has permanently moved to a new web address. A good example to illustrate this is the Angelist Talent former website (https://angel.co) which now permanently redirects to https://wellfound.com/.

  2. Temporary redirection: This method uses a 302 HTTP status code to indicate a redirection from a specific URL to another for a limited duration of time. For example, if you're recreating your website or adopting a new brand design, you can redirect your users to a different page to notify them about the update until the new website is up.

How to make redirects in Next.js

Now that you understand what URL redirection is, let's see how you can use the technique in your Next.js app.

The most basic way to setup Next.js redirects is to use the redirects key in your next.config.js file.

The Next.js app created for us by create-next-app comes with a next.config.js file by default in the app root folder. If you don't have the next.config.js file, you can create it now in your root folder.

Next, edit the content of app/page.js to the following:

export default function Home() {
return (
<>
<main>
<div>This is the home page </div>
</main>
</>
);
}

Now, create a new folder named feed inside the app folder and create a page.js in it like so: app/feed/page.js:

export default function Feed() {
return <h1>Hello, welcome to your feed!</h1>;
}

Finally, edit the content of next.config.js file in your app folder to this:

/** @type {import('next').NextConfig} */
const nextConfig = {
async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/",
destination: "/feed",
permanent: true,
},
];
},
};

module.exports = nextConfig;

Now if you start the development server with npm run dev and navigate to http://localhost:3000, instead of the app to render the home page in app/page.js, you'll be redirected to the app/feed/page.js page instead.

Here's how everything works behind the scenes:

The redirects key in next.config.js is an async function that returns array with objects for configuring redirects in your app. You'll be using it most of the time to implement redirects in your Next.js app.

In the above example, we defined three objects: source, destination and permanent to implement the redirect.

The configuration objects are seven in total, but the following three are required to perform any redirects.

  • source - the original path the user requested.
  • destination - the new path you want to route to.
  • permanent - a boolean value. When set to true, it will utilize the 308 status code, instructing clients and search engines to cache the redirect indefinitely. If set to false, it will use the 307 status code, which is temporary and not cached.

While the following four are optional and only required for specific use cases.

basePath - can be either false or undefined - if set to false, the basePath will not be considered during matching. This can be useful for external redirects exclusively.

  • locale - can be either false or undefined - determines whether the locale should be excluded during matching.
  • has - an array of has objects with the type, key and value properties.
  • missing - an array of missing objects with the type, key and value properties.

Methods of Redirecting in Next.js

Next.js provides a variety of ways to perform redirects. These include; path matching; header, cookie, and query matching; API redirecting and so on.

Path matching

This method involves the use of URL paths to configure how you want Next.js to perform the redirect. The example we used above is an example of using URL paths to configure Next.js redirects.

const nextConfig = {
async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/",
destination: "/feed",
permanent: true,
},
];
},
};

module.exports = nextConfig;

There are two methods we can use to match URL paths for redirects. These are:

  • Matching URL path using wildcard patterns
  • Matching URL path using Regular expressions

Matching URL path using wildcard patterns

You can use wildcard patterns (using asterisks) to match one or more characters in the URL path. For example, a URL path such as "/user/:username*" will match any URLs that have the word "user" followed by any string, such as, /user/johndoe or /user/samurai:

The example below will redirect a user that tries to access, say for example, /user/johndoe to profile/johndoe.

module.exports = {
async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/user/:username*",
destination: "/profile/:username*",
permanent: true,
},
];
},
};

Matching URL path using Regular expressions

Another way to configure Next.js redirects is to use regex patterns to match the URL path. To do this, you can wrap the regex pattern in parentheses. For example, /posts/:slug([A-Za-z0-9]+) will match /posts/XRTw34gFG but not /posts/FEE$#GRgtyy.

module.exports = {
async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/posts/:slug([A-Za-z0-9]+)",
destination: "/articles/:slug",
permanent: false,
},
];
},
};

You can also configure Next.js redirects based on when the values of headers, cookies or query match the source and has objects or don't match the missing object in next.config.js. Note that for the redirect to take effect, the values of source and has must match while the value of missing must not match.

The has and missing objects can have the following fields:

type: a string value that must be either header, cookie, host, or query. key: String - the key from the selected type to match against. value: String or undefined - the value to check for, if undefined any value will match.

Let's look at an example that redirects the user to a different page in the app based on cookie value.

Edit the content of feed/page.js to the following:

"use client";
import { useEffect } from "react";

export default function Feed() {
useEffect(() => {
document.cookie = "admin=true; SameSite=None; Secure";
console.log(document.cookie);
});

return <h1>Hello, welcome to your feed!</h1>;
}

Next, edit the content of next.config.js to the following:

const nextConfig = {
async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/feed",
has: [
{
type: "cookie",
key: "admin",
value: "true",
},
],
destination: "/",
permanent: true,
},
];
},
};

module.exports = nextConfig;

In the example above, we are setting a cookie in feed/page.js immediately after the page renders. Then we configure next.config.js to redirect the user from the feed page to the home page -localhost:3000- based on the cookie value. The has key checks if there's a cookie with a key-value pair of 'admin=true' and then applies the redirect if so.

Redirecting with basePath support

The basePath key allows you to prefix the URLs with a specific path. For example, if you want to redirect users to a new version of your docs with a different path and you don't want to write the new path repeatedly, you can set the value of basePath in next.config.js like so:

const nextConfig = {
basePath: "/v2",

async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/v1/docs",
destination: "/docs/getting-started/",
permanent: false,
},
// ...
];
},
};

module.exports = nextConfig;

Now, when a user tries to visit the old docs at /v1/docs/getting-started, they will be redirected to /v2/docs/getting-started instead.

And if you don't want the basePath to apply to a specific redirect you can set basePath to false like so:

const nextConfig = {
basePath: "/v2",

async redirects() {
return [
{
source: "/v1/docs",
destination: "/docs/getting-started/",
permanent: false,
},
{
source: "/without-basepath",
destination: "https://google.com", // basePath is set to false here so this URL won't be prefixed with `/v2`
basePath: false,
permanent: false,
},
];
},
};

module.exports = nextConfig;

Other Methods of Performing Next.js Redirects

In API Routes

Apart from configuring redirects using the next.config.js file, Next.js provides other methods for doing this in different scenarios. For example, if you're building a full-stack application using Next.js API routes you can use the redirect() method to make redirects.

import { NextResponse } from "next/server";

export async function GET(request) {
return NextResponse.redirect("https://nextjs.org/");
}

In getServerSideProps and getStaticProps

export default function Home() {
return <h1>Welcome to the home page!</h1>;
}

export const getServerSideProps = async ({ res }) => {
return {
redirect: {
destination: "/new-url",
permanent: false,
},
};
};

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Conclusion

In this article, we looked at the several ways through which you can leverage Next.js' capabilities to easily configure redirects based on a variety of criteria, including URL matching, query parameters, cookies, headers, and more.

Next.js gives you a powerful and flexible system for handling redirects in your web applications. Whether you're building a simple or complex application, the methods discussed in this article are guaranteed to work for your use cases.

Happy coding!

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