UPDATE: 24 hours after posting this, Vercel responded to the outstanding issue. A few days later, they started a discussion about it. They’ve committed to improving the caching experience.
Next.js 13’s App Router has caused no shortage of controversy. Lots of people are upset about Server Components. Some blogs seem to think the sky is falling. Me? I love it. Love. Big heart eyes, harps strumming, floating to a cloud.
As much as I love React, as confident as I feel with it and TypeScript, I think that the benefits of the SPA are lost on most products. I think that the massive amount of code we push to clients is embarrassing. The rituals of API requests, the complexities of client state management… I’m over it. At the risk of sounding like an old man: I miss Rails. I miss having a server that can talk to my database and spit out HTML that loads quickly on clients. One deployment, one environment, way less boilerplate. Obviously, as a professional React developer, there are tons and tons of amazing things that simply cannot be done with server-rendered pages; like I said, I love React. But I think we’ve reached peak SPA.
React Server Components give me what I want. The server talks to my database, talks to APIs, prepares data and renders as much HTML as possible. Then it lets me elegently drop into the client as needed. React Server Actions give me simple RPC calls. The move to RSC is accelerating modern approaches to CSS-in-JS (I’m currently working on a personal project using Panda and it is loevly!) and even though things are changing fast, it’s giving me what I’m looking for.
But the App Router has its share of problems. Among them is its highly opinionated caching rules, particularly its client-side caching rules. There is an ongoing discussion about this in their GitHub issues. It is the single most commented open issue in the project right now, 286 comments at the time of my writing. You can find it at https://github.com/vercel/next.js/issues/42991. Vercel so far have not responded to it.
I slapped together a quick workaround for the problem. It relies on
revalidatePath, a function that Vercel limits usage of in its free tier, so it will not be for everyone. But if you’re hosting somewhere without such a restriction – maybe you’re hosting on a Node.js server so you’re not as concerned about counting function invocations – here’s my approach.