Haresh Vidja
Written By Haresh Vidja Tech Lead

MEAN vs MERN: Ultimate Stack Comparison for Web Development

post date
April 20, 2023
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Web development has evolved rapidly, and today’s developers are spoilt for choice with a wide range of technology stacks available. Among them, the MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js) and MERN (MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node.js) stacks have emerged as popular choices. Both MEAN and MERN offer powerful features and benefits, thanks to their use of JavaScript as the core programming language. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between the two stacks and help you make an informed decision when comparing MEAN vs MERN.

What is the MEAN Stack?

MEAN Stack is a full-stack web development technology that combines four powerful technologies: MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and NodeJS. The name ‘MEAN’ is an acronym derived from the first letter of each technology in the stack. This open-source stack is free to use and has gained immense popularity among web developers due to its full-stack capabilities and the use of a single language, JavaScript. With MEAN, developers can use JavaScript for both client-side and server-side development, which streamlines the development process and improves efficiency.

An Overview of MEAN Stack Components

MEAN Stack combines the following components of web technologies:

MongoDB

MongoDB is a highly flexible, scalable, and easy-to-use NoSQL database that stores data in JSON-like documents. It’s a popular choice for the MERN stack as it integrates seamlessly with JavaScript and provides excellent performance, making it ideal for high-traffic web applications that require complex data structures.

ExpressJS

ExpressJS is a powerful web application framework widely used to build scalable and robust web applications. It is built on top of Node.js and provides a simple and easy-to-use interface for building web applications. With its rich set of features, Express.js makes it easier to manage routes, handle requests and responses, and integrate with other libraries and tools. It also offers a wide range of plugins and middleware to enhance its functionality and make web development more efficient

AngularJS

AngularJS is a powerful front-end JavaScript framework that is specifically designed for building dynamic and complex web applications. As a key component of the MEAN stack, it provides developers with a comprehensive set of tools and features for building robust, scalable, and interactive web applications. With AngularJS, developers can easily create single-page applications that offer a smooth and responsive user experience. Additionally, AngularJS supports modular development, allowing developers to break down complex applications into smaller, more manageable parts for easier maintenance and development.

NodeJS

Node.js is a powerful server-side JavaScript runtime environment that allows for the creation of scalable and high-performance web applications. MEAN developers benefit from its non-blocking I/O model, which enables the handling of a large number of requests simultaneously. Node.js has gained popularity as an optimal choice for developing data-intensive and real-time web applications.

Pros and cons of MEAN stack

The MEAN stack offers several advantages, including:

Uses isomorphic code

The MEAN stack offers a unique advantage in that it is an isomorphic JavaScript-based stack that can run seamlessly on both the client and server sides. This design allows for rapid development and deployment of applications while also eliminating the need for a separate development team to handle front-end and back-end development. With MEAN Stack, you can use the same team to build an entire application, which can lead to lower development costs and a faster time to market.

Cross-platform compatibility

The MEAN stack’s use of JavaScript provides a unique advantage in that there is no need for a separate codebase for web and mobile applications. With this stack, developers can create hybrid mobile applications that use the same codebase as the web application, maintaining consistent functionality and features across all platforms. This saves development time and costs while allowing for a more efficient and seamless development process.

Real-time and Interactive App Development

The Node.JS in the MEAN stack enables real-time feature integration without requiring the user to update the app. This makes it suitable for live app demos and building interactive real-time apps like messaging apps.

Extensive libraries

The MEAN stack is built entirely from open-source components, providing businesses with access to a wealth of libraries and tools for efficient development. Being open-source also means that development teams have access to solutions to problems they might encounter during the development process, making debugging easier and streamlining the process.

MEAN stack disadvantages include

  • MEAN stack’s server-side code and business logic are tightly coupled, which could result in unorganized and difficult-to-maintain code known as spaghetti code. This can make it challenging to make updates or introduce new features, leading to longer development times and higher costs.
  • Data partitioning in the MEAN stack can sometimes be challenging, and there is a risk of data loss during the partitioning process. It is essential to plan and implement a data partitioning strategy carefully to avoid potential data loss or corruption.

What is the MERN Stack?

The MERN stack is a powerful full-stack technology stack built entirely on JavaScript. This cutting-edge stack is designed to help MERN developers build robust and scalable web applications. It combines some of the most popular and powerful open-source technologies, including MongoDB as the database, Express.js as the server-side framework, React.js for client-side user interfaces, and Node.js as the server-side runtime environment. With the MERN stack, developers have a comprehensive set of tools that enable them to build feature-rich web applications efficiently.

An Overview of MERN Stack Components

As mentioned earlier, the MERN Stack comprises four primary technologies, which are MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js. Let’s take a closer look at the components of MERN.

MongoDB

MongoDB, one of the key technologies in the MERN stack, is a NoSQL database that stores data in a flexible, document-oriented format. Unlike traditional relational databases that use tables and rows, MongoDB’s approach allows for easy scaling and handling of large volumes of unstructured or semi-structured data. Additionally, MongoDB’s robust query language and cross-platform compatibility make it a popular choice for modern web development.

Express.JS

Express.JS is a popular and minimalist web application framework that runs on top of Node.js. It provides developers with a simple and intuitive API for building web applications and APIs. Express simplifies the process of handling HTTP requests, managing routing, and processing data from the client. With a robust set of features and a large community of contributors, Express is widely used in the MERN stack to build scalable and high-performance web applications.

React

React is a popular and widely-used JavaScript library for building scalable and high-performance user interfaces. Its component-based architecture allows developers to create reusable UI elements, making the development process faster and more efficient. With its ability to handle complex user interactions and state management, React is ideal for building dynamic and adaptable web applications.

Node.js

Node.js is a powerful server-side JavaScript runtime environment that enables MERN developers to use JavaScript on both the client and server sides. It offers a non-blocking I/O model that is ideal for developing data-intensive applications in real-time. Node.js supports event-driven programming, which helps to ensure high scalability and performance in MERN applications.

Pros and cons of MERN stack

The MERN stack offers several advantages, including:

Optimized Performance

The MERN stack excels at fast UI rendering, thanks to React’s virtual DOM feature. Unlike other frameworks like AngularJS, React is a library that allows for greater freedom in organizing and optimizing code for better performance. This translates to improved user experience and increased search engine optimization (SEO) for web applications built with the MERN stack.

Provides a seamless user experience

React Native, a framework built on top of React, enables MERN developers to build mobile apps that provide a native-like experience to users. React Native supports features such as camera access, offline data storage, and smooth animations. It also allows developers to write code once and use it for both iOS and Android platforms, saving time and effort.

Cost-effective

The MERN stack leverages JavaScript for both front-end and back-end development, which means that you don’t have to hire separate developers for each layer. This not only saves you money and time but also provides more flexibility to switch between client and server-side development. Additionally, this unified approach streamlines the development process and leads to faster deployment of web applications.

There are some limitations to using the MERN stack, including:

  • When working with the React JS library in the MERN stack, developers often rely on a multitude of third-party tools and libraries to achieve their goals. While these tools provide the opportunity to build a robust application, they also require additional configurations, which can slow down the development and deployment processes.
  • MERN is ideal for developing smaller, single-page, or mobile applications. If you’re planning on creating large, complex applications, you may find the MEAN stack more suitable, as it offers additional features and tools to handle large-scale projects.

Source: Google Trends

Breaking down the differences: MEAN stack vs MERN stack

MEAN stack

  • MongoDB, as the database of choice for MEAN, offers a highly scalable and flexible data storage solution, making it well-suited for handling large amounts of data.
  • Express, as the backend web application framework for MEAN, provides a minimalistic and flexible approach to web development, allowing developers to easily create APIs and handle HTTP requests.
  • Node.js, as the server-side JavaScript runtime for MEAN, allows for the efficient handling of I/O operations and the creation of real-time applications.
  • Angular, as the frontend JavaScript framework for MEAN, provides a robust set of tools for building dynamic and interactive user interfaces, including powerful data binding and dependency injection capabilities.
  • MEAN follows a standardized approach to web development, which can be beneficial for large teams working on complex projects, as it helps maintain consistency and reduces the risk of errors.
  • Angular’s two-way data binding allows for easy synchronization between the model and the view, making it simple to create complex and responsive user interfaces.
  • MEAN stack supports hybrid mobile app development using tools such as Ionic, which is built on top of Angular and provides a range of pre-built UI components and native device features.

MERN stack

  • Uses the React library for building the frontend, which provides exceptional performance and allows for fast rendering of UI components.
  • Offers a flexible and intuitive development environment that is relatively easy to learn, with a large community of developers available for support.
  • Third-party libraries and tools are often required for additional functionality, which may slow down development and deployment.
  • Provides a faster response time due to its ability to handle data-intensive applications in real-time.
  • Well-suited for building single-page applications and web applications that require a dynamic and interactive user interface.
  • React uses a unidirectional data flow, which simplifies the management of complex application states and enhances the predictability of UI components.
  • The MERN stack includes React Native, a dedicated framework for building high-performance hybrid mobile applications that can run on both iOS and Android platforms.

Source: Google Trends

Key considerations for selecting the ideal stack between MEAN and MERN

To determine the most suitable stack for your application, consider the following factors:

UI requirements

React’s component-based architecture allows developers to create complex interfaces by assembling simple building blocks. As a result, MERN may be the better choice over MEAN if you need to develop advanced and user-friendly interfaces. Additionally, MERN’s fast UI rendering capabilities can enhance the user experience compared to MEAN.

Project Timeline

Angular in the MEAN stack offers out-of-the-box integration with third-party tools, allowing for efficient and seamless development. On the other hand, React in the MERN stack provides developers with a vast array of third-party libraries and tools, but these require more effort to integrate and configure, potentially impacting development timelines.

Maintenance and modifications

When it comes to maintenance and modifications, the MERN stack has an advantage due to the simplicity and modularity of its React-based front-end. This makes it easier to add new features, fix bugs, and make changes to the user interface. As a result, it can be a better choice for projects with a fast turnaround or a need for frequent updates and iterations, such as building an MVP or a proof of concept.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the MEAN and MERN stacks are both highly popular and widely used for web development. Although they share similarities, such as being open-source and utilizing JavaScript, each stack has unique features that may make one more appropriate than the other for a specific project.

Ultimately, choosing between the MEAN and MERN stacks depends on various factors, such as project requirements, development team expertise, performance, scalability, and maintainability. Thus, it’s essential to assess each stack meticulously before making a final decision, as it can significantly impact the project’s success. By carefully evaluating your options, you can select the right stack for your project, which can save time, money and ensure optimal performance.

 

Haresh Vidja
Written By Haresh Vidja Tech Lead

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