Getting StartedNext.js Pages Router

Next.js Pages Router Quickstart

The Vercel AI SDK is a powerful Typescript library designed to help developers build AI-powered applications.

In this quickstart tutorial, you'll build a simple AI-chatbot with a streaming user interface. Along the way, you'll learn key concepts and techniques that are fundamental to using the SDK in your own projects.

If you are unfamiliar with the concepts of Prompt Engineering and HTTP Streaming, you can optionally read these documents first.

Prerequisites

Before you raise a frothy seed round and build a billion dollar business, you need to set-up your project.

Make sure you have the following:

  • Node.js 18+ and pnpm installed on your local development machine.
  • An OpenAI API key.

If you haven't obtained your OpenAI API key, you can do so by signing up on the OpenAI website.

Setup Your Application

Start by creating a new Next.js application. This command will create a new directory named my-ai-app and set up a basic Next.js application inside it.

Be sure to select no when prompted to use the App Router. If you are looking for the Next.js App Router quickstart guide, you can find it here .

pnpm create next-app@latest my-ai-app

Navigate to the newly created directory:

cd my-ai-app

Install dependencies

Install ai and @ai-sdk/openai, Vercel AI SDK's OpenAI provider.

Vercel AI SDK is designed to be a unified interface to interact with any large language model. This means that you can change model and providers with just one line of code! Learn more about available providers and building custom providers in the providers section.

pnpm install ai @ai-sdk/openai zod

Make sure you are using ai version 3.1 or higher.

Configure OpenAI API Key

Create a .env.local file in your project root and add your OpenAI API Key. This key is used to authenticate your application with the OpenAI service.

touch .env.local

Edit the .env.local file:

.env.local
OPENAI_API_KEY=xxxxxxxxx

Replace xxxxxxxxx with your actual OpenAI API key.

Create a Route Handler

As long as you are on Next.js 13+, you can use Route Handlers (using the App Router) alongside the Pages Router. This is recommended to enable you to use the Web APIs interface/signature

Create a Route Handler (app/api/chat/route.ts) and add the following code:

app/api/chat/route.ts
import { openai } from '@ai-sdk/openai';
import { StreamingTextResponse, streamText } from 'ai';
export async function POST(req: Request) {
const { messages } = await req.json();
const result = await streamText({
model: openai('gpt-4-turbo'),
messages,
});
return new StreamingTextResponse(result.toAIStream());
}

Let's take a look at what is happening in this code:

  1. First, you define an asynchronous POST request and extract messages from the body of the request. The messages variable contains a history of the conversation with you and the chatbot and will provide the chatbot with the necessary context to make the next generation.
  2. Next, you call the streamText function which is imported from the ai package. To use this function, you pass it a configuration object that contains a model provider (imported from @ai-sdk/openai) and messages (defined in step 2). You can use pass additional settings in this configuration object to further customise the models behaviour.
  3. The streamText function will return a StreamTextResult. This result object contains the toAIStream function which will be used in the next step to convert the stream into a format compatible with StreamingTextResponse.
  4. Finally, you send the result to the client by a returning a new StreamingTextResponse, passing the AI Stream from the result object described in the previous step. This will set the required headers and response details to allow the client to stream the response.

This Route Handler creates a POST request endpint at /api/chat.

Wire up the UI

Now that you have an API route that can query an LLM, it's time to setup your frontend. Vercel AI SDK's UI package abstract the complexity of a chat interface into one hook, useChat.

Update your root page (pages/index.tsx) with the following code to show a list of chat messages and provide a user message input:

pages/index.tsx
import { useChat } from 'ai/react';
export default function Chat() {
const { messages, input, handleInputChange, handleSubmit } = useChat();
return (
<div className="flex flex-col w-full max-w-md py-24 mx-auto stretch">
{messages.map(m => (
<div key={m.id} className="whitespace-pre-wrap">
{m.role === 'user' ? 'User: ' : 'AI: '}
{m.content}
</div>
))}
<form onSubmit={handleSubmit}>
<input
className="fixed bottom-0 w-full max-w-md p-2 mb-8 border border-gray-300 rounded shadow-xl"
value={input}
placeholder="Say something..."
onChange={handleInputChange}
/>
</form>
</div>
);
}

This page utilizes the useChat hook, which will, by default, use the POST API route you created earlier (/api/chat). The hook provides functions and state for handling user input and form submission. The useChat hook provides multiple utility functions and state variables:

  • messages - the current chat messages (an array of objects with id, role, and content properties).
  • input - the current value of the user's input field.
  • handleInputChange and handleSubmit - functions to handle user interactions (typing into the input field and submitting the form, respectively).
  • isLoading - boolean that indicates whether the API request is in progress.

Running Your Application

With that, you have built everything you need for your chatbot! To start your application, use the command:

pnpm run dev

Head to your browser and open http://localhost:3000. You should see an input field. Test it out by entering a message and see the AI chatbot respond in real-time! Vercel AI SDK makes it fast and easy to build AI chat interfaces with Next.js.

Stream Data Alongside Response

Depending on your use case, you may want to stream additional data alongside the model's response. This can be done using StreamData.

Update your Route Handler

Make the following changes to your Route Handler (app/api/chat/route.ts)

app/api/chat/route.ts
import { openai } from '@ai-sdk/openai';
import { StreamingTextResponse, streamText, StreamData } from 'ai';
export async function POST(req: Request) {
const { messages } = await req.json();
const result = await streamText({
model: openai('gpt-4-turbo'),
messages,
});
const data = new StreamData();
data.append({ test: 'value' });
const stream = result.toAIStream({
onFinal(_) {
data.close();
},
});
return new StreamingTextResponse(stream, {}, data);
}

In this code, you:

  1. Create a new instance of StreamData.
  2. Append the data you want to stream alongside the model's response.
  3. Create a new AI stream with the toAIStream method on the StreamTextResult object.
  4. Listen for the onFinal callback on the AI Stream created above.
  5. Pass the data alongside the stream to the new StreamingTextResponse.

Update your frontend

To access this data on the frontend, the useChat hook returns an optional value that stores this data. Update your root route with the following code to render the streamed data:

pages/index.tsx
import { useChat } from 'ai/react';
export default function Chat() {
const { messages, input, handleInputChange, handleSubmit, data } = useChat();
return (
<div className="flex flex-col w-full max-w-md py-24 mx-auto stretch">
{data && <pre>{JSON.stringify(data, null, 2)}</pre>}
{messages.map(m => (
<div key={m.id} className="whitespace-pre-wrap">
{m.role === 'user' ? 'User: ' : 'AI: '}
{m.content}
</div>
))}
<form onSubmit={handleSubmit}>
<input
className="fixed bottom-0 w-full max-w-md p-2 mb-8 border border-gray-300 rounded shadow-xl"
value={input}
placeholder="Say something..."
onChange={handleInputChange}
/>
</form>
</div>
);
}

Head back to your browser (http://localhost:3000) and enter a new message. You should see a JSON object appear with the value you sent from your API route!

Where to Next?

You've built an AI chatbot using the Vercel AI SDK! Remember, your imagination is the limit when it comes to using AI to build apps, so feel free to experiment and extend the functionality of this application further.

If you are looking to leverage the broader capabilities of LLMs, Vercel AI SDK Core provides a comprehensive set of lower-level tools and APIs that will help you unlock a wider range of AI functionalities beyond the chatbot paradigm.