Building web apps with dynamic APIs and server side rendering are a way to give people a great experience both with content and speed. How can we use Next.js to easily build those apps?

What are we going to build?

We’re going to have some fun and build out a web app that serves as a basic wiki for Rick and Morty characters.

Rick and Morty Wiki Demo

Our app is going to consist of a few things:

  • A list of characters on the front page
  • A button that can load more characters, as the API is paginated
  • A search box to look up characters
  • A character page with basic details

We’ll learn some concepts like:

What is Next.js?

Next.js is a React framework from Vercel. It let’s you easily build lightweight dynamic web apps with a ton of modern features you’d expect out-of-the-box.

Vercel, the company that supports Next.js, is a service that allows you to automate continuous development pipelines to easily deploy web apps to the world. We’ll also use Vercel’s command line tool to optionally deploy our new wiki demo.

Step 0: Setting up a new Next.js app

To get started, let’s spin up our Next.js project. We’ll use npm or yarn to get started:

yarn create next-app
# or
npx create-next-app
Creating a new Next.js app

Once you run that command, it will ask you a few questions. I’m going to call my project my-rick-and-morty-wiki, but you can name it whatever you’d like.

It will then ask you which template to choose — go ahead and select the default template.

Finally, it will install all of the dependencies.

Successfully created a new Next.js app

When it’s finished, you can navigate to that new directory and run:

yarn dev
# or
npm run dev
Starting Next.js development server

You should now have a local server running at http://localhost:3000!

Default Next.js template

Step 1: Fetching Rick and Morty characters with an API in Next.js

Now that we have our app set up, the first thing we need to actually build out our wiki is a list of characters.

To do this, we’re going to start off in our home page in pages/index.js.

Next.js scaffolds this page for us automatically. It’s the first page someone will hit on our website and has some basic features in the default template like a title, a simple grid, and some styles.

Currently, this page isn’t requesting any data. To get our characters, we’re going to jump right into requesting this server side.

To do this, Next.js allows us to export an async getServerSideProps function right next to our page, which it will use to inject our page with any data that we fetch.

Let’s start off by adding the following snippet above our Home function component:

const defaultEndpoint = ``;

export async function getServerSideProps() {
  const res = await fetch(defaultEndpoint)
  const data = await res.json();
  return {
    props: {

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • We’re setting a variable called defaultEndpoint that simply defines our default API endpoint
  • We’re defining our getServerSideProps function that we’ll use to fetch our data
  • In that function, we first use the fetch API to make a request to our endpoint
  • With it’s response, we run the json method so that we can grab the output in JSON format
  • Finally, we return an object where we make our data available as a prop in the props property

Now that we’re making that request, we need to make it available to use.

Our data is made available as a prop, so let’s create an argument in our Home component function to grab that:

export default function Home({ data }) {

To test this, we can use console.log to see the results:

export default function Home({ data }) {
  console.log('data', data);

And once we save and reload the page, we can now see our results!

Logging out Rick and Morty character data in Next.js app

Follow along with the commit!

Step 2: Displaying Rick and Morty characters on the page

Now that we have our character data, let’s actually display it on our page.

To start, I’m going to make a few tweaks. I’m going to update:

  • The <h1> title to “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!”
  • The <p> description to “Rick and Morty Character Wiki”

I’m also going to update the contents of <div clasName=“grid” to:

<ul className="grid">
  <li className="card">
    <a href="">
      <h3>My Character</h3>

What I’m doing here:

  • I’m making the <div> a list as that will be better for accessibility
  • I’m making the <li> of the <ul> the card
  • And just changing the <h3> to “My Character” temporarily

To make sure our new <ul> doesn’t mess up the layout with it’s default styles, let’s also add the following to the bottom of the .grid CSS rules:

list-style: none;
margin-left: 0;
padding-left: 0;

And now if we look at the page, we should see our basic changes.

Updated title in Rick and Morty Wiki

Next, let’s make our grid load our characters.

At the top of our Home component function, let’s add:

const { results = [] } = data;

That will destructure our results array from our data object.

Next, let’s update our grid code:

<ul className="grid">
  { => {
    const { id, name } = result;
    return (
      <li key={id} className="card">
        <a href="#">
          <h3>{ name }</h3>

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • We’re using the map method to create a new list element for each of our results (or characters)
  • Inside of that, we’re grabbing the id and name from each  character result
  • We’re using the ID as a key for our list element to make React happy
  • We’re updating our header with the name

And once you save and reload the page, we should now see a new list of our characters from the API!

Dynamic list of Rick and Morty character names

We can also add an image for each character.

First, inside of our grid, let’s update our destructure statement to grab the image URL:

const { id, name, image } = result;

Next, let’s add the image above our header:

<img src={image} alt={`${name} Thumbnail`} />

And now each of our characters also shows their picture!

Adding character images on Rick and Morty Wiki

Follow along with the commit!

Step 3: Loading more Rick and Morty characters

Now if you notice, when we load the page, we only get a certain number of results. By default, the API won’t return the entire list of characters, which makes sense, because it’s really long!

Instead, it uses pagination and provides us with the “next” endpoint, or the next page of results, that will allow us to load in more results.

To start, we’re going to use React’s useState hook to store our results in state. We’ll then have the ability to update that state with more results.

First, let’s import useState from React:

import { useState } from 'react';

Next, let’s create our state by first renaming our original results variable and setting up our useState instance:

const { results: defaultResults = [] } = data;
const [results, updateResults] = useState(defaultResults);

If you save that and reload the page, you shouldn’t notice anything different yet.

Next, we want to be able to understand in our application what our current endpoint we’ve made a request is, what the next endpoint is, what the previous endpoint is, and how we can update all of that.

To do this, we’re going to create more state. First, we want to update our destructuring statement with our data to get the info value:

const { info, results: defaultResults = [] } = data;

Next, let’s set up some state using that:

const [page, updatePage] = useState({,
  current: defaultEndpoint

Here, we’re:

  • Creating a new page state that we can use to get our prev and next values
  • We’re also creating a new value called current we’ll we start off by using our defaultEndpoint, which was the request made on the server

The idea here, is when we want to load more results, we’re going set up code to watch the value of current and update that value with the next, so when it  changes, we’ll make a new request.

To do that, let’s add a useEffect hook to make that request:

const { current } = page;

useEffect(() => {
  if ( current === defaultEndpoint ) return;

  async function request() {
    const res = await fetch(current)
    const nextData = await res.json();


    if ( ! ) {

    updateResults(prev => {
      return [

}, [current]);

Here’s what’s going on:

  • First, we’re destructuring the current value from `page
  • We’re creating a useEffect hook that uses current as a dependency. If they value changes, the hook will run
  • If our current value is the same as defaultEndpoint, we don’t run the code, as we already have our request data. Prevents and extra on load request
  • We create an async function that we’re able to run. This allows us to use async/await inside of our useEffect hook
  • We make the request to the current endpoint. With that successful request, we update the page state with the new info like the new prev and next value
  • If our request does not have a previous value, that means it’s the first set of results for the given request, so we should completely replace our results to start from scratch
  • If we do have a previous value, concatenate our new results to the old, as that means we just requested the next page of results

Again, if you save and reload the page, this still shouldn’t do anything and your page should be where it was before.

Finally, we’re going to create a Load More button and use it to update the current value to fire off a new request when we want a new page.

To do that, let’s first add a new button below our grid:

  <button>Load More</button>
Added Load More button to Rick and Morty Wiki character list

Now we want something to happen when we click that button, so first add an event handler:

<button onClick={handleLoadMore}>Load More</button>

Then above the component return statement, let’s add that function:

function handleLoadMore() {
  updatePage(prev => {
    return {
      current: page?.next

When triggered with our button click, this function will update our page state with a new current value, specifically with the next value which is the endpoint to fetch our next page of results.

Loading more results in Rick and Morty Wiki

And when we save and reload the page, it does just that!

Follow along with the commit!

Step 4: Adding the ability to search for Rick and Morty characters

One of the features out Rick and Morty API provides is the ability to filter results — so basically the ability to search. So let’s add that as a feature.

First, we need a search form. Let’s add the following snippet under the description paragraph:

<form className="search">
  <input name="query" type="search" />

Next, let’s add these styles to the bottom of the first <style jsx> block:

.search input {
  margin-right: .5em;

@media (max-width: 600px) {
  .search input {
    margin-right: 0;
    margin-bottom: .5em;

  .search input,
  .search button {
    width: 100%;

That’s going to give some spacing to our search input and button as well as make it mobile friendly. Feel free to add more styles if you’d like.

And if we save and refresh our page, we have a simple form.

Added search form to Rick and Morty Wiki

It doesn’t do anything yet, so let’s make it search when submit the form.

To start, let’s add an onSubmit attribute to our form:

<form className="search" onSubmit={handleOnSubmitSearch}>

And to go with that, let’s define our submit function above our return statement:

function handleOnSubmitSearch(e) {

  const { currentTarget = {} } = e;
  const fields = Array.from(currentTarget?.elements);
  const fieldQuery = fields.find(field => === 'query');

  const value = fieldQuery.value || '';
  const endpoint = `${value}`;

    current: endpoint

Here’s what we’re  doing:

  • First we’re preventing default behavior from the form submission to prevent the page from reloading
  • Next we grab the current target, which is our form
  • We grab the fields from the form by using the elements property. We also turn this into an array so it’s easy to work with
  • We search those fields for our query input
  • We grab the value of that input
  • We create a new endpoint where we filter by name using that query value
  • Finally, we update our current property in our page state to trigger a new request to that endpoint

And once you save that and reload the page, you can now give search a try. You should be able to type in a name like “rick”, hit enter or click the search button, and you should now see filtered results with the various ricks across the universe!

Searching for Rick on Rick and Morty Wiki

Follow along with the commit!

Now that we have all of our characters, we want to be able to click into those characters and display some additional details. To do that, we’re  going to make use of Next.js’s dynamic routes.

The first thing we need to do is properly configure our directory structure so Next.js recognizes the dynamic path. In order to set up a dynamic route, we need to create our folder exactly like:

- pages
-- character
--- [id]
-- index.js

Yes, that means you’re literally creating a folder with the name of [id], that’s not meant to be replaced. Next.js recognizes that pattern and will let us use that to create a dynamic route.

To make creating the page easier, we’re going to simply duplicate our homepage by copying our pages/index.js file into our next directly.

So we should now have a new page at pages/character/[id]/index.js.

Next, let’s remove a bunch of stuff so we can get to a good starting point:

  • Remove everything above the return statement in our page’s function component
  • Rename the function component Character
  • Remove the useState and useEffect imports
  • Remove the description, search form, grid, and load more button
  • Optional: remove the footer

Once you’re done, the top of our page’s function component should look like:

export default function Character({ data }) {
  return (
    <div className="container">
        <title>Create Next App</title>
        <link rel="icon" href="/favicon.ico" />

        <h1 className="title">
          Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!

While there is some CSS we don’t need, we’re going to leave it all there for this demo. Feel free to clean some of that out later.

If you navigate manually to /character/1, you should now see a simple page with just a title:

Simple character page

Next, let’s update the data we’re fetching. We can reuse most of the code in our getServerSideProps function.

We’re going to add a new argument to that getServerSideProps function:

export async function getServerSideProps({ query }) {

When our page is rendered, Next.js injects data into our page and the getServerSideProps function about the environment. Here, we’re destructuring that data to grab the query object which will include any dynamic routing attributes, such as the [id] we’re setting in the route.

Next, at the top of the getServerSideProps function, let’s destructure the ID:

const { id } = query;

And finally let’s use that ID to dynamically create an endpoint we’ll use to fetch our character data:

const res = await fetch(`${defaultEndpoint}${id}`);

Here, we’re using our character endpoint and appending the dynamic ID of our URL to the end of the URL.

To test this out, let’s add a console.log to the top of the Character function:

export default function Character({ data }) {
  console.log('data', data);

And if we hit save and reload our page, we should now see the user details about character number 1 logged out, which is Rick Sanchez!

Logging out individual Rick and Morty character data

So we have the data, let’s add it to our page.

At the top of the character function, let’s add this destructure statement:

const { name, image, gender, location, origin, species, status } = data;

This gives us a bunch of attributes we’re getting right from that data object we saw logged out.

To use that, we can start by updating the title to that name:

<title>{ name }</title>

Also the <h1>:

<h1 className="title">{ name }</h1>

At this point, we should now dynamically see Rick’s name.

Dynamic Rick and Morty character page title

Next, let’s add this block below our <h1> to include more of our character details:

<div className="profile">
  <div className="profile-image">
    <img src={image} alt={name} />
  <div className="profile-details">
    <h2>Character Details</h2>
        <strong>Name:</strong> { name }
        <strong>Status:</strong> { status }
        <strong>Gender:</strong> { gender }
        <strong>Species:</strong> { species }
        <strong>Location:</strong> { location?.name }
        <strong>Originally From:</strong> { origin?.name }

Here we’re using our characters image to display a picture of our character and other various metadata to add Character Details.

We can follow that up by adding this snippet of CSS to our styles:

.profile {
  display: flex;
  margin-top: 2em;

@media (max-width: 600px) {
  .profile {
    flex-direction: column;

.profile-image {
  margin-right: 2em;

@media (max-width: 600px) {
  .profile-image {
    max-width: 100%;
    margin: 0 auto;

And now we have our character bio!

Dynamic Rick Sanchez characer page

So a quick recap, we have our new dynamic page. We can go to /character/1 or any ID to see a specific character. Let’s now update our homepage to link to these pages.

Back on pages/index.js, our homepage, let’s first import the Link component from Next.js:

import Link from 'next/link'

Next, inside of our grid where we map through our list of results, let’s use our <Link> component and update our code:

<li key={id} className="card">
  <Link href="/character/[id]" as={`/character/${id}`}>
      <img src={image} alt={`${name} Thumbnail`} />
      <h3>{ name }</h3>

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • First we’re wrapping our <a> element with a <Link> component
  • We add a href and the as properties to describe to Next.js what page we want to link to. We need to use the as property as it’s a dynamic link
  • We remove the href from our <a> element as it’s now being applied to the <Link> element

If we save and reload our homepage, we’ll notice that nothing changed, but when we click any of our characters, we now go to their bio page!

Navigating to Jerry Smith character page on Rick and Morty Wiki

Finally, let’s also add a button to our character bio page that links back to our homepage to make it easier to navigate.

First, let’s import the Link component:

import Link from 'next/link';

At the bottom of our <main> tag below our .profile div, let’s add this code:

<p className="back">
  <Link href="/">
      Back to All Characters

And we can add the following basic styles to simply make it look like a link:

.back a {
  color: blue;
  text-decoration: underline;

And if we reload the page, we now have link that we can click to go back to the main page with all of our characters!

Back to All Characters link on Rick and Morty character page

Follow along with the commit!

Bonus Step: Deploy your Rick and Morty wiki to Vercel!

Because we’re using Next.js, Vercel makes it super simple to deploy our app.

To do this, we need to install the Vercel CLI. We can do that by installing it as an npm module globally:

yarn global add vercel
# or 
npm i -g vercel

Now, you  can run the vercel command in your terminal.

The first time you run this, you’ll be prompted to log in. You’ll want to use your Vercel account to do this. If you don’t have one, you’ll want to sign up for a free account.

Logging into Vercel CLI

With the Vercel CLI installed, we can simply run vercel in our project directory, fill out a few questions, and it will automatically deploy!

Deploying app with Vercel CLI

You can use pretty much all of the defaults, though you will probably need to use a different project name than I’m using.

But once finished, we now have successfully deployed our new app to Vercel!

Finished Rick and Morty Wiki app

What else can we do?

More dynamic pages

Every time you make a request to a character, the API returns other endpoints that you can use such as locations and episodes. We can utilize those endpoints and create new dynamic pages, just like our dynamic character profile pages, to allow people to see more information about a specific location or episode.

Add some styles

We stuck with some of the basic styles that Next.js included and added some basic ones just for demonstration purposes. But now that you’re finished, you can have some fun and make it your own!

Add character filters

In addition to filtering by name, the API also supports filtering by status. By adding a status parameter to the endpoint URL, just like our name parameter, you can add a new filter to make it easier to find characters that are still alive or not.