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MEAN and MERN Stacks: Which Tech Stack to Choose for Full Stack Development?

16 Jul 2022
Technology stacks are a set of software solutions that can be used together to build powerful applications and dynamic websites. In general computing, a software or application stack is a set of software components and subsystems that are required for building a complete platform or digital experience.  Applications and websites are generally considered to be […]
MEAN and MERN Stacks_ Which Tech Stack to Choose for Full Stack Development_

Technology stacks are a set of software solutions that can be used together to build powerful applications and dynamic websites. In general computing, a software or application stack is a set of software components and subsystems that are required for building a complete platform or digital experience. 

Applications and websites are generally considered to be running on these technologies and thus, the term ‘stack’ is used for referring to solutions such as MEAN or MERN. There are many other technology stacks like the LAMP stack, which is Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, or combinations such as HTML, CSS, Python or C++, and PostgreSQL. However, MEAN and MERN stacks are considered to be the best by most full stack developers.

Why MERN stack or MEAN stack? The technologies in the two tech stacks are mostly JavaScript-based and this allows developers to work around a single programming language. Full stack developers also prefer these two technology stacks due to the seamless experience of sewing everything together to deploy the final product.

Seamlessly integrating the front-end, back-end, database, and the server is essential and these two stacks allow us to expedite these processes. In order to provide a truly holistic web experience, companies and developers must focus on both the UI/UX (user interface/user experience) or the front-end and also the core functionalities of the platform,  website, or backend.

Even though HTML and CSS can be used for creating the front-end, libraries and frameworks such as React or Angular make it easy to build powerful platforms with core functionalities rendering on the backend.

If we think about the advantages of the MERN stack and the MEAN stack over just HTML and CSS, then it is endless. Only when we use an additional technology such as JavaScript, we are able to build truly dynamic experiences for end-users. 

Firstly, vanilla technology or raw HTML and CSS are limited to a certain degree and it can take up a lot of time to build a complex website from scratch without any other languages such as JavaScript. When we add raw JavaScript to websites, many old clients or browsers are unable to load various JS elements while some browsers simply block JavaScript.

With ReactJS and AngularJS, though based on JavaScript, you can easily render and load components or elements on the server-side, which removes the possibility of client-end browsers blocking parts of the platform or website.

However, the benefits of the MERN stack or the MEAN stack are not just limited to this. Developing platforms, digital services, and websites with the technologies in these two stacks is much faster and simpler for developers compared to alternative technologies from other stacks. 

For instance, many find it easier to work with NoSQL databases such as MongoDB (a component of both MEAN and MERN stacks) than SQL databases like  MySQL or MariaDB.

What is MEAN stack?

The MEAN stack is used for referring to the technology combination of MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js. Each of the four technologies is used for a specific purpose in full stack development.

MongoDB is used for creating and managing the databases of applications and websites. It is a NoSQL and non-relational database that stores databases in a more effective way than traditional SQL databases. This is due to MongoDB being a document-oriented database that is flexible and highly scalable. 

Unlike internal and organizational databases that benefit from SQL databases, MongoDB is a significantly better solution for websites and online platforms due to not storing data in a tabular format. 

Express.js is a web framework and backend runtime environment built on top of NodeJS that you can use for making APIs and initiating data requests or relays. Express also supports a website’s backend functionalities and structure.

Meanwhile, AngularJS is a front-end web framework used for developing immersive UIs and front-end dashboards. With the help of Angular, you can create highly dynamic end-user interfaces from scratch or with the help of templates. AngularJS runs JavaScript code on the client-side or browser-side.

Please keep in mind that AngularJS is not the same as Angular 2.0, which is based on TypeScript. However, one can choose to use TypeScript when working with the MEAN stack.

Further, Node.js is a backend runtime environment used for writing server-side code in JavaScript. Node is essential for running JavaScript code in cross-platform environments.

Benefits of the MEAN stack

Here are some benefits that the MEAN stack brings to developers:

  • The whole technology stack uses JavaScript and thus is much easier to handle for full-stack developers as compared to stacks such as the LAMP stack. 
  • MEAN stack is easier for beginners to learn.
  • MEAN stack reduces development costs and also the time taken for project deployment.
  • Due to using MongoDB, development pipelines are more efficient and there is better data accessibility.
  • Angular is great for building responsive websites that can adapt to a vast range of resolutions and devices.
  • More effective for enterprise-grade platforms and services due to the availability of various supporting libraries and extensions.

Skills of a MEAN stack developer

MEAN stack developers must possess the following traits:

  • Comfortable with JavaScript code
  • Ability to work with NodeJS
  • Ability to work with NoSQL databases and handle JSON files
  • A foundational understanding of how front-end languages such as HTML and CSS function

What is MERN stack?

The MERN stack comprises the technology combination of MongoDB, Express, React, and Node. Like developers who use MEAN, MERN stack developers also use the same three base technologies for setting up the database, writing server-side code, and building other backend functions. The difference between the two stacks is in the front-end or the client-side.

Instead of Angular, the MERN stack users develop the front-end with React. Also, React is JavaScript-based and is a front-end development library that allows us to build rich user experiences and dynamic UIs. React allows us to build the front-end of an application with the help of a simple component-based development process which speeds up the development process drastically. 

React also promotes component reusability, thus making it easier to develop on React. The library consists of various UI components that provide you with a lot of freedom, especially when working with single-page applications and websites. Like Angular is maintained by Google, React is maintained by Meta (previously Facebook). 

React is also open-source, making it one of the most easily accessible and viable solutions for all kinds of developers. This also allows a consistent influx of third-party solutions and component libraries that are offered by a community of individual developers.

This popular framework is used for building websites, desktop applications, and even native applications for platforms such as Android or iOS with the help of React Native.

Benefits of the MERN stack

Here are some MERN stack benefits:

  • React allows us to build dynamic UIs with simple components and connect it to the backend of applications or single-page websites
  • Like the MEAN stack, the MERN stack also uses JavaScript, thus requiring developers to only work with one programming language
  • React is extremely useful in building native Android or iOS applications
  • MERN developers can use various open-source React component libraries for more functionalities
  • Handling JSON files is extremely easy and MongoDB makes data more accessible for projects
  • Scalable products and reusable components with the help of React

Skills of a MERN Stack Developer

The skills required from a MERN stack developer are relatively similar to the skills of MEAN stack developers. This includes the ability to write JavaScript code and work with NoSQL databases. However, there is one additional skill that you must have.

In order to use React to its full potential, you must have a solid understanding of JSX, a syntax extension to JavaScript. With JSX, you can create truly dynamic web applications using React.

As needed for the MEAN stack, you must also have these skills for the MERN stack:

  • Understanding of HTML and how websites render in HTML
  • CSS and foundational understanding of design layouts

Similarities and Differences Between the Two

There are more similarities than differences between the backend development portion of the two stacks. However, how developers approach front-end development with the two technology stacks is vastly different.

Both the stacks use the same technologies for the database, server-side functions, and backend environment. However, we use vastly different technologies for developing the UI/UX with the two stacks. Angular is used for MEAN, while React is used for MERN.

You must also know JavaScript for both the stacks. However, to work with React effectively, you must additionally know JSX. The supporting libraries and templates/components that are available for Angular and React are also different, thus making a huge difference in the entire development process, including backend development.

How? For instance, it is easy to use React with NodeJS and the component libraries for views/component routing and other backend functionalities that can easily be integrated into the backend using React. This also allows the URL of the page to be in sync with the current view (a portion of the UI/UX) at all times.

Scenarios MEAN or MERN are Each Suitable For 

The MEAN stack is extremely useful for building large scalable organizational platforms. The MERN stack is used for creating powerful modern applications and services.

For instance, the MERN stack is better for creating truly dynamic single-page applications or websites. Applications created with the MERN stack can look and feel more immersive for the end-user.

Meanwhile, the MEAN stack is much better for creating large-scale platforms that have more enterprise or business functionalities. Websites created with the MEAN stack are also quite responsive.

Angular is great for building native web applications, however, React is much better for developing desktop applications and native applications for iOS or Android. React specializes in component-oriented development while Angular allows you to work more closely with HTML5 and CSS3.

Demand for MEAN and MERN Stack Developers

The demand for MEAN and MERN stack developers has been increasing by the day, especially with more businesses shifting to digital services and eCommerce-based business models.

The average salary for a MERN stack developer in India is Rs 62,403 per month. Meanwhile, the average salary for a MEAN stack developer in India is approximately Rs 35,000 per month.

In terms of salaries, it does seem that MERN stack developers earn more. So, is MERN stack good? Yes, it is as good as the MEAN stack, if not better for a lot of projects. However, the future is bright for both kinds of developers, especially in terms of opportunities and career prospects.

There are 50,000 to 100,000 openings on Naukri for MEAN stack developers in India at any given time of the year. The numbers are quite similar for MERN stack developers as well in terms of vacancies. Truth be told, the demand is much higher than the availability of skilled personnel in the two technology stacks.

Which Stack to Learn as a Full Stack Developer?

When deciding upon which tech stack to choose, you must first analyze and think about what is the future of MERN stack and MEAN stack. By analyzing current trends in the job market, you will be able to identify what kind of technology is being used more. However, both the stacks are incredibly popular. So, you might need to also consider salaries as the scope and prospects for both MEAN and MERN are quite similar.

The average MERN stack developer salary is more than the average MEAN stack developer salary. Thus, you might want to choose MERN if you want higher salaries.

As a full stack developer, if you wish to use TypeScript, then MEAN is definitely the better alternative for you. However, working with JSX and React in MERN is extremely easy while the learning curve is extremely steep for Angular in MEAN.

Many full stack developers feel that MEAN offers more productivity with the bidirectional data flow in Angular. However, a huge number of developers do not mind the unidirectional flow of data in React when working with MERN. 

Is MERN stack in demand? Yes, the technology stack is in high demand and top MNCs such as Netflix and Uber all use React. Though Angular offers high productivity when building large online platforms, React helps MERN developers keep a clean data flow architecture, which is much more preferable in modern times.

MERN is the best stack for you if you wish to build Android/iOS applications and single-page applications. However, MERN can also be a good choice if you wish to build responsive enterprise-level web applications/platforms. In such a case, learning the MERN stack would be more beneficial for you.

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