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What is MEAN Stack?

Blog: what is MEAN stack?
September 25, 2018
By Blue Pi
Reading Time: 5 minutes

MEAN stack is currently one of the hottest trends in the website and web application development. It is hard to find an experienced web application developer who does not know what is MEAN stack. Like other software stacks, MEAN stack also provides a set of components to simplify and accelerate custom web application development. The four core components of the MEAN stack form a platform that enables programmers to build custom web applications without requiring additional software development tools.

But MEAN stack, unlike other software stacks, enables developers to build a web application’s frontend and backend using a single programming language – JavaScript. The core components of the MEAN stack even enable programmers to build universal JavaScript applications and write isomorphic JavaScript code. MEAN stack is actually an acronym of its four open source core components – MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and NodeJS. These core components make MEAN stack a robust and open source JavaScript software stack for the development of websites and web applications.

Understanding Four Core Components of MEAN Stack

MongoDB: The open source and cross-platform non-relational/NoSQL database features a documents oriented data model. Unlike relational databases, MongoDB does not store data in rows and columns. Instead, it splits the data across multiple servers. Hence, it becomes easier for web developers to speed up data access, work with large volumes of data, and keep both business and user data secured.

Express.js: The fast and minimalist web framework is developed based on NodeJS. The developers can accelerate the development of web applications and APIs by using Express.js as a robust server-framework for NodeJS. They even have the option to extend Expres.js by using a variety of plugins. Like MongoDB, Expres.js is a backend component of MEAN stack.

AngularJS: The frontend web application framework accelerates web application development by allowing programmers to extend HTML syntaxes. AngularJS enables developers to express various components of the web application by extending existing HTML syntaxes. It even simplifies the development of large and complex websites by supporting the model-view-controller (MVC) architectural pattern.

NodeJS: The open source and cross-platform server environment converts JavaScript from a client-side programming language to a server-side programming language. Many web developers nowadays leverage NodeJS to use JavaScript for both frontend and backend web development. Despite being a lightweight framework, NodeJS makes the web applications deliver optimal user experience by executing JavaScript code at high speed. The developers even have the option to avail a wide range of NodeJS packages and modules according to precise project needs.

Advantages of Building Web Applications with MEAN Stack

Write Isomorphic JavaScript Code: The core components of MEAN stack enables programmers to write both client-side and server-side code in JavaScript. The developers can leverage AngularJS to accelerate frontend web development and NodeJS to simplify backend web development. The same programmers can further work on the web application’s frontend and backend. They can further maintain web applications without putting extra time and effort.

Build Responsive and Portable Websites: The web developers nowadays adopt responsive web design to make the same website look good on varied devices and platforms with a single codebase. Responsive web design requires developers to build applications with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. MEAN stack extends responsive web design by allowing programmers to use JavaScript as a server-side programming language. The developers can further leverage AngularJS to express various components of the web application by extending HTML syntaxes.

Take Advantage of MVC Architectural Pattern: As noted earlier, AngularJS supports MVC architectural pattern. Hence, MEAN stack enables programmers to simplify the development and maintenance of complex web applications. The developers can leverage the MVC architectural pattern to keep the application’s user interface layer separated from the business logic layer. Also, the two-way data binding facilitated by AngularJS synchronize the data between model and view components automatically. The developers can further boost the performance of web applications by implementing a variety of caching techniques.

Deploy Web Applications in Multiple Ways: MEAN stack allows developers to deploy web applications on conventional web servers and in the cloud. Major cloud service platforms support both NodeJS and MongoDB. Unlike relational databases, MongoDB works seamlessly on popular cloud service platforms. The developers can further set up, scale, and manage databases in the cloud efficiently by taking advantage of MongoDB Atlas. At the same time, they also have the option to deploy web applications on various web servers.

Work with Third-Party APIs: Most developers nowadays avail third-party APIs to make web application exchange requests and responses rapidly. The APIs store and exchange data efficiently by leveraging JSON syntax. MEAN stack makes it easier for programmers to work with third-party APIs by supporting JSON format. The core components of MEAN stack support JSON format fully. Hence, the developers can store all data in JSON format. They can further leverage the JSON format to speed up web development by availing an array of third-party APIs.

Boost the Website’s User Experience: The loading speed of a website nowadays directly impacts its user experience and search engine visibility. Hence, the developers have to explore ways to prevent user abandonment by making the website load faster. MEAN stack helps developers to boost the performance and speed of websites by leveraging NodeJS. A number of studies suggest that NodeJS is much faster than many widely used server-side programming languages. NodeJS features a non-blocking I/O model that distributes the incoming connections and allocate heaps to each connection. Hence, the web application loads faster and handle a sudden surge in user load.

Curtail Custom Web Application Development Cost: Both large and small enterprises nowadays opt for open source web technologies to curtail project overheads. Each of the four core components of MEAN stack is open source and free. Hence, the developers can build web applications with MEAN stack without paying any licensing fees. Also, the core components of MEAN stack provide developers with a robust web development platform. The developers can leverage the platform to build web applications without using comma ercial web frameworks and development tools.

Disadvantages of Building Web Applications with MEAN Stack

JavaScript was designed as a Client-Side Scripting Language: MEAN stack accelerates web development by enabling programmers to write both client-side and server-side code in JavaScript. But the developers must remember that JavaScript was originally developed as a client-side scripting language. Despite evolving consistently, it lacks some of the robust features provided by widely used server-side programming languages like PHP, Java, Python, Ruby and C#.

Users have the option to disable JavaScript: Major web browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer allow users to disable or turn off JavaScript in a number of ways. Many users even disable JavaScript on their web browsers with the intention to block ads. Hence, the web application developed with MEAN stack will become practically useless if the user turns off JavaScript. However, a large percentage of users still do not disable JavaScript in their web browsers.

Each Component of MEAN Stack has Its Own Shortcomings: The four components of MEAN stack simplify web application development by forming a robust platform. But each component of MEAN stack has its own pros and cons. For instance, the developers must be familiar with several complex concepts to leverage NodeJS’s scalability. Likewise, AngularJS often makes the web applications complex and Express.js is considered as a monolithic web framework. Also, many developers consider relational databases to be more stable and reliable than MongoDB.

On the whole, MEAN stack is currently one of the hottest trends in web development. Many web developers nowadays opt for MEAN stack to build custom web applications rapidly by using JavaScript as a client-side and server-side programming language. The four core components of MEAN stack further form a robust platform for the development of responsive, fast, and portable web applications. But MEAN stack, like other software stacks, has its own pros and cons. The web developers must keep in mind the major shortcomings of MEAN stack to accelerate custom web application development.


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