Server-Side Rendering with Vue.js 3: Techniques and Tips

Anton Ioffe - December 22nd 2023 - 11 minutes read

In the ever-evolving landscape of web development, the incorporation of Server-Side Rendering (SSR) within Vue.js 3 typifies the cutting-edge strategies that modern developers harness to build dynamic, performant, and SEO-friendly applications. This insightful article is your compass through the intricate terrain of SSR, guiding you from the foundational principles to the most intricate optimization techniques unique to Vue.js 3. We dive deep into architecting robust solutions, smoothing out potential SSR snags, and pushing the boundaries of scalability. Whether you're a seasoned Vue architect or looking to refine your SSR craftsmanship, the following discourse promises to elevate your development acumen, unveil advanced practices, and arm you with the know-how to finesse SSR into your Vue.js 3 projects. Prepare to embark on a comprehensive journey where we unveil the quintessence of SSR within the vibrant ecosystem of Vue.js 3.

Embracing Vue.js 3 for Robust SSR Applications

Server-Side Rendering (SSR) stands as a cornerstone technique in the modern web development landscape, particularly when dealing with frameworks such as Vue.js 3. In contrast to traditional client-side rendering, where JavaScript-driven DOM manipulation occurs within the user's browser, SSR shifts the rendering workload to the server. This transition results in fully composed HTML pages being sent to the client, ensuring a faster time-to-content which is crucial for retaining user engagement and minimizing bounce rates. Vue.js 3 caters to this need with an enhanced SSR support system that allows developers to craft compelling user experiences without sacrificing performance.

The decision to leverage SSR within the Vue.js 3 ecosystem often stems from the need to bolster Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines prioritize content that's readily accessible and indexable upon first page load, and with SSR, Vue.js 3 ensures that dynamically generated content is served in a crawlable format. Moreover, by rendering on the server, Vue.js 3 minimizes the initial JavaScript payload, thus reducing the time until the first paint and enhancing the perceived responsiveness of web applications.

Comparatively, Static Site Generation (SSG) is another methodology for improving SEO and performance. SSG pre-builds static HTML pages at build time, which can be served quickly and cached effectively. However, SSR with Vue.js 3 triumphs in scenarios with frequently changing content or personalized user experiences where static pages fall short. The dynamic nature of SSR allows developers to provide up-to-date content without the latency penalties that accompany pure client-side rendering.

Vue.js 3 is particularly well-suited for SSR due to its reactivity system and component-based architecture which streamline server-rendered applications. The framework's optimized reactivity model ensures minimal overhead during rendering, translating to faster server response times and lower resource consumption. Components in Vue.js 3 can be effectively used to encapsulate and manage the state of different parts of the application, facilitating ease of development and maintenance of server-rendered pages.

In practice, implementing SSR with Vue.js 3 allows developers to deliver rich, interactive web applications that don't compromise on performance or SEO capabilities. By sending pre-rendered content to the client, Vue.js 3 applications contribute to a faster, more efficient web, where users can interact with content almost instantly. The framework's focus on a lean core, modularity, and a forward-thinking API design unlocks the full potential of SSR, providing a compelling case for its adoption in creating robust, user- and search engine-friendly web applications.

Design Patterns and Architectural Considerations

When embarking on the implementation of SSR with Vue.js, one must tailor the application's architecture to suit the dual environment it operates within: the server and the client. At the heart of this architecture lies the concept of a universal codebase, which refers to the idea that the majority of your code should execute identically on both the client and the server. The execution environment should influence only a minimal portion of the application logic, primarily those dealing with platform-specific APIs and rendering lifecycles.

To realize this design, code structuring becomes paramount. It's important to modularize the application so that core functionalities such as creating the Vue instance, defining routes, and managing state are abstracted in shared files. Such modularity ensures that differences between server-side rendering and client-side hydration are confined to specific entry points rather than spread throughout the application. This encapsulation not only enhances maintainability but also streamlines the process of code reuse and testing.

// Entry point for server
import { createSSRApp } from 'vue';
import App from './App.vue';
import { createRouter } from './router';
import { createStore } from './store';

export function createApp() {
    const app = createSSRApp(App);
    const router = createRouter();
    const store = createStore();
    return { app, router, store };

One of the more subtle, yet critical, aspects of SSR with Vue.js is managing universal routing and state. Given a server's stateless nature, each request to the server must be treated as a unique instance with its own router and store instances. Hence, routing and state management patterns must be designed to accommodate this scenario, ensuring that routes and data fetching logic can run identically on both the server and the client. This prevents memory leaks and cross-request state pollution, which are common pitfalls in SSR applications.

// router.js shared between server and client
export function createRouter() {
    // Define and return router instance

// store.js shared between server and client
export function createStore() {
    // Define and return store instance

When considering state management in Vue.js with SSR, one must think differently as opposed to a client-only environment. As Vue components are meant to be reactive, this implies that during server rendering, the data state must be serialized and embedded in the final HTML payload for the client. This process, known as state hydration, is critical because it enables the client Vue instance to pick up where the server left off without needing to duplicate API calls.

// server.js
import { renderToString } from '@vue/server-renderer';
import { createApp } from './app';

export async function render(url) {
    const { app, router, store } = createApp();
    await router.isReady();

    const renderedHtml = await renderToString(app);
    // Serialize and embed the state in the HTML before sending it to the client
    const state = `<script>window.__INITIAL_STATE__=${JSON.stringify(store.state)}</script>`;
    return `<div id="app">${renderedHtml}</div>${state}`;

Lastly, the need for a seamless client-side takeover cannot be overstated. When the client receives the pre-rendered HTML, it must be able to hydrate the Vue instance, binding the pre-fetched data to the existing markup efficiently. This means ensuring that the generated client-side bundle has logic to parse the serialized state and initialize the Vue instance with it, allowing for a non-disruptive takeover. Carefully synchronizing server and client lifecycles confers a robust user experience during this critical transition phase.

// client.js
import { createApp } from './app';

const { app } = createApp();

// Assuming the server has serialized the store state in window.__INITIAL_STATE__
if (window.__INITIAL_STATE__) {

app.mount('#app', true); // true for hydration

SSR Optimization Strategies with Vue.js 3

Optimizing the critical render path during SSR with Vue.js 3 involves a structured approach to prioritizing which resources are needed first for rendering the initial view. By examining the sequence of events that lead to the first render, developers can employ techniques like inlining critical CSS and deferring non-critical assets. A real-world example of this might include dynamically injecting styles that are required for above-the-fold content directly into the HTML to prevent render-blocking:

app.use('*', (req, res) => {
    const { render } = require('./dist/server.entry.js');

    const context = { url: req.url };
    render(context).then(({ html, css }) => {
            <!DOCTYPE html>
            <html lang="en">
                <title>My SSR Vue App</title>

Code-splitting is another robust strategy to enhance SSR performance. It involves dividing a bundle into smaller chunks that can be loaded on demand, reducing the initial load time. With Vue.js 3, this can be efficiently managed using dynamic import statements that separate component-specific JavaScript chunks:

const MyComponent = () => import('./MyComponent.vue');

However, care must be taken to avoid splitting code excessively, as it can lead to an increased number of requests and strain on the server. Balancing the size and number of chunks is crucial to optimize loading performance.

Server-side data pre-fetching is a critical step to ensure that the client receives a ready-to-use page with the necessary data already in place. By fetching data before the actual SSR process, TTFB can be substantially improved. Here's how you can use async data fetching in your Vue components to facilitate this:

export default {
    asyncData(context) {
        return fetchData( => {
            return { data };

Combatting common SSR mistakes involves understanding that redundant data-fetching on client-side hydration can lead to performance issues. One should ensure that server-fetched data is passed to the client properly to prevent this. A pattern for this practice is serializing the state on the server and deserializing it on the client, thereby skipping unnecessary network requests:

// On the server
window.__INITIAL_STATE__ = ${serialize(store.state)}

// On the client
if (window.__INITIAL_STATE__) {

A thought-provoking consideration for Vue.js 3 SSR optimization is how data-intensive applications should balance between immediate data availability and gradual user interface enrichment. Could incremental static regeneration offer a blend between SSR's immediacy and static generation's cacheability, thus providing an alternative model for specific use-cases?

Overcoming SSR Pitfalls in Vue.js 3 Development

In server-side rendering (SSR) with Vue.js 3, one challenge developers may encounter is hydration mismatch. Hydration is the process where the client-side JavaScript "activates" static HTML sent from the server. When there’s a discrepancy between the HTML structure rendered by the server and what Vue expects on the client, errors can arise. To avoid this, ensure that your server-rendered markup matches the client-side virtual DOM structure. On the server, eliminate side effects in your rendering code that could cause the DOM to differ from its client-side equivalent. Utilize the beforeMount or mounted hooks for client-side DOM manipulations, as these run only after hydration:

// Avoid side-effects in methods like 'created' that run on server and client
created() {
    // Not suitable for DOM operations

// Safely manipulate DOM in 'mounted', which only runs client-side
mounted() {

Another significant pitfall is cross-request state pollution. Global state shared across requests can lead to subtle, hard-to-debug issues due to the singleton nature of Node.js modules. Instead, create a fresh instance of the state for each request to prevent state leaks from one request to another:

function createState() {
    return reactive({ ...initialState });

server.get('*', async (req, res) => {
    const state = createState();
    // Use 'state' for SSR context

Memory management is crucial to SSR applications to prevent memory leaks. Memory leaks can spiral out of control if closures capture large objects or if components aren't properly destroyed after rendering. Ensure cleanup is performed after each request, releasing references to large objects or event listeners. Also, the correct instantiation of components via createSSRApp ensures a fresh app instance per request, reducing the likelihood of memory leaks:

// Memory leak avoided by creating a new app instance per request
server.get('*', (req, res) => {
    const app = createSSRApp(MyComponent);
    renderer.renderToString(app).then((html) => {
        // Send 'html' to client, allowing 'app' to be garbage collected

The complexity of SSR apps can often increase with custom directives and features like Teleports. When leveraging these, consider the constraints of server rendering. Teleport content to a target that exists in both server and client-rendered templates to ensure consistency:

<teleport to="#modal">
    <!-- Server and client targets match, preventing hydration issues -->
    <Modal />

Lastly, when dealing with large data sets or complex operations, tackling SSR performance is key. Strive for data-fetching strategies that do not compromise the server response time. Lazy initialization of heavy computations or the usage of asynchronous components can help maintain a responsive server:

// Asynchronous component that won't block server rendering
const AsyncComp = defineAsyncComponent(() =>

export default {
    components: {

Each of these tips not only sidesteps common SSR pitfalls but also enhances the robustness and maintainability of your Vue.js 3 application. Consider how each change affects the SSR cycle—does it reduce complexity, enhance readability, or improve performance? The trade-offs involved can influence your architectural choices, driving a thoughtful and scalable approach to SSR in your Vue.js 3 projects.

Advanced SSR Techniques and Considerations for Scalable Vue.js 3 Applications

When working with Vue.js 3 on server-side rendering (SSR) applications, custom directives can provide a powerful way to encapsulate and reuse DOM-related logic across components. Unlike standard component methods, directives have the fine-grained control necessary for directly manipulating the DOM, which can be particularly beneficial for tasks like managing focus or integrating with third-party libraries that require direct DOM access.

Vue.directive('focus', {
    // When the bound element is inserted into the DOM...
    inserted: function (el) {
        // Focus the element

This approach promotes reusability and keeps component logic focused on the data and behavior rather than DOM details. However, exercise caution with SSR as manipulating the DOM isn't possible during server rendering, so ensure that any DOM-related directives run only on the client side.

Handling third-party integrations in an SSR context can often introduce challenges, especially when these libraries are not designed with SSR in mind. One strategy is to abstract the integration into a service layer, effectively decoupling the library usage from the Vue components themselves, and invoking these services conditionally based on the rendering context.

const mapService = {
    initMap(containerId) {
        if (typeof window === 'undefined') return;
        // Initialize third-party library that needs the window object

In a micro-frontend architecture, where different teams may own different parts of the application, server-side rendering can become complex due to diverse dependencies and development practices. Leveraging module federation can simplify SSR in such a scenario by allowing separate builds to share dependencies runtime. It's crucial to handle the SSR context correctly in each micro-frontend so that the main container can seamlessly render them together.

// Webpack 5 Module Federation plugin configuration
module.exports = {
    plugins: [
        new ModuleFederationPlugin({
            name: 'microFrontendName',
            library: { type: 'var', name: 'microFrontendName' },
            filename: 'remoteEntry.js',
            exposes: {
                './Component': './src/Component'
            // ...
    // ...

When you need a more turnkey solution, leveraging modern tools like Nuxt 3 can handle SSR complexity for you. Nuxt 3 provides a standardized environment that includes best practices and offers utilities like async data fetching, routing, and state management that work out of the box for both the client and the server. When implementing universal features like authentication or data persistence, Nuxt modules and plugins can be extremely helpful.

// Example of a Nuxt 3 plugin for universal data fetching
export default defineNuxtPlugin((nuxtApp) => {
    nuxtApp.provide('fetchData', async (url) => {
        const data = process.server
            ? await serverFetch(url)
            : await clientFetch(url);
        return data;

In every case, ensuring that the architecture supports scale and maintainability without sacrificing performance is key. Elements such as conditional server-client code execution, dynamic module serving, and the strategic usage of modern tools must therefore always be considered in light of the specific requirements of your Vue.js 3 application. Consider these strategies as a starting point to spark more insightful architecture discussions within your development team.


The article "Server-Side Rendering with Vue.js 3: Techniques and Tips" explores the benefits and techniques of implementing server-side rendering (SSR) in Vue.js 3. It highlights the advantages of SSR for performance and SEO, as well as the architectural considerations and optimization strategies to maximize the efficiency of SSR in Vue.js 3 projects. The article also addresses common pitfalls and provides advanced techniques for building scalable Vue.js 3 applications. A challenging task for the reader would be to implement a custom directive in Vue.js 3 that manipulates the DOM and investigate how it can be effectively used in an SSR context.

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