The Inside Scoop on MERN Stack

If you’re interested in full-stack development, MERN is a must-know set of technologies to successfully create a web app from start to finish. This full-stack uses top resources to develop the best possible web app, and it has many advantages compared to other full-stacks. 

What is MERN?

MERN is a JavaScript stack that provides end-to-end resources for building web apps, including front-end, back-end and database components. MEAN stands for the four apps used in conjunction:

  • MongoDB: Back-end database for storing data as JSON documents. 
  • Express: Back-end web app framework for running jointly with Node.js. 
  • React: Front-end JavaScript library (developed by Facebook) for interactive front-end development.
  • Node.js: Back-end engine for handling back-end server components. 

In this chart from MongoDB Blog, you can better understand how these four components work together for complete app development:

Overview of MERN Advantages

As a JavaScript stack, MERN is extremely useful when it comes to development. That’s because every technology in MERN stack uses JavaScript, so there’s no need for developers to switch from one language to another. All you need to know is JavaScript and JSON. 

MERN is also open-source, which means there’s a huge community of developers working in it. Support guides, YouTube tutorials, question threads … you’re likely to find them all. 

In this same vein, MERN has a large suite of testing tools, so that you can easily troubleshoot across the stack. Many of these tools were built by early developers working in MERN. 

MERN Technologies in Detail

Each technology within the MERN stack contributes to its overall efficiency. Together, they create a powerful set of technologies for developing web apps. 

MongoDB is an open-source and asynchronous database that stores data as JSON documents. It stores documents under dynamic schemas, which means it’s scalable and easy-to-use. As an asynchronous database, it’s also a perfect fit with Node.js.

Express is a middleware web framework that runs back-end code within Node.js. Basically, it handles all routing requests across the app.

React is the front-end Javascript library that acts as a framework for the client-facing app. It provides a dynamic front-end for optimal user experience.

Node.js is the back-end engine that handles the server. It’s asynchronous, which means that while it completes a request, it performs other tasks. 

 Advantages of MERN vs. MEAN

MERN is one of the most popular stacks after MEAN. What’s the difference between MERN vs. MEAN? There’s only one letter of difference. Instead of React, the MEAN stack uses Angular. This change has key implications in terms of implementation, performance, efficiency, and costs. 

  • Implementation: React is easier to use and developers will get the hang of React more quickly. That’s because in React, you don’t have to worry about templating as much. This means you can develop code faster than other technologies. 
  • Performance: Technically, React is a library (not a framework) that uses parent and child components to render an interactive interface. As a library, it performs a lot better than Angular.
  • Efficiency: As an isomorphic language, React can run on both the server and the browser, which creates great efficiency across the app. 
  • Cost-effective: Because of its easy-to-use nature and coding efficiency, MERN may be a more cost-effective full-stack. With open-source support, accessible set-up and reduced learning time, MERN may have the lowest development costs out there. 

Drawbacks to MERN

MERN is considered a lightweight and efficient stack. However, there’s one drawback to MEAN compared to MERN: large-scale power. Because Angular is a framework, it has features that make it easier to attach third-party libraries. Very large applications will require these third-party libraries in order to effectively power them. As a framework, Angular can do this much easier compared to React. 

Our takeaway: MERN is the top choice for smaller and more efficient apps, while MEAN may be best for those giant enterprise apps. 

Learning MERN 

If you’re ready to jump in and learn MERN, remember that you’ll have to learn four separate technologies in order to become competent. Luckily, there are a ton of amazing resources online for learning all four and mastering this useful full-stack. 

To start, experienced developers recommend learning MERN in two parts: the front-end technology (React) and the back-end technologies (MongoDB, Express and Node.js). You can begin by getting an intro to React on their official site. You should also definitely check out FreeCodeCamp, which has some of the highest quality and free resources available. You can also get more in-depth information about the differences between JS frameworks React vs. Angular here

FreeCodeCamp is also great for learning Node.js, MongoDB and Express. You should also look at GitHub’s amazing community support threads, such as this one with steps for a sample basic MERN stack app. 

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on MERN stack, it’s time to learn these skills and get coding!

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