Mean Stack vs Mern Stack: Difference Between Mean Stack & Mern Stack [2021]

Building a custom web application is an excellent way to understand full-stack development in its entirety. It is critical to understand the difference between mean stack and mern stack when you are selecting the most suitable technology stack for your web development project. 

Moreover, advancements in big data have pushed agile methods to center stage. Present-day software programs need to have a robust infrastructure to respond to the ever-changing business environment. So, developers have to choose the stack that maximizes flexibility, scalability, and performance cost-effectively. And to make that decision, they should have full clarity about the features and benefits associated with each alternative. But before we delve into that part, let us explain full-stack development for the beginners.

What is full-stack development?

In the domain of web development, a full-stack comprises four key solutions or software systems, viz. front-end, back-end, testing, and mobile app. Conventionally, companies hired people who had experience in any one of these areas. But as modern workplaces’ requirements evolve, there is a high demand for skilled candidates in the ancillary technologies. We have summarized some of these competencies for you below.

  1. Front-end tools: CSS, JavaScript, Single page applications (using Ajax and HTML5), TypeScript, Angular, React, etc.
  2. Back-end technologies: PHP, Python, NodeJS, GO, ExpressJS, Django, Caching, Middleware, etc.
  3. Database: MySQL, Postgres, SQLite, MongoDB, Clusters, etc.
  4. DevOps: Software development life cycle (SDLC creation), CI/CD pipelines, etc.
  5. Mobile app: Development of Android and iOS apps

The typical responsibilities of full-stack developers include management of the entire design structure of a project. Depending on the task’s requirements at hand, they have to switch between front-end and back-end development roles. Since they have the well-rounded technical knowledge, they can identify and solve problems across several web architectures streams. These qualities make full-stack developers ideal for small and medium-sized enterprises that work in a more compartmentalized manner. 

Now, let us learn how to choose between different full-stack frameworks while implementing a development project. We would cover the difference between mean stack and mern stack to acquaint you with their unique capabilities. So, read on to know who wins the debate! 

Mean stack vs. Mern stack

The competition between MEAN and MERN stack is quite close as both frameworks offer reliable abstraction at the UI level. Mean stack uses AngularJS (backed by Google Inc.) while Mern stack has the ReactJS library (a Facebook product) as one of its components. The use of JavaScript as the primary programming language eliminates the need for code-switching and empowers novice developers to make their ideas tangible. 

Both options have a stellar combination of tools to help you build well-functioning software products. Hence, it can be daunting for newcomers to pick the right stack for their applications. Let us have a closer look at their benefits and compare their performance under different situations. 

Read: Exciting Mean Stack Project Ideas For Beginners

Benefits of mean stack

Mean stack is a bundle of Java-based tools, including MongoDB, Express, Angular, Node. This open-source framework enables quick and easy development of web and mobile applications. Furthermore, it allows developers to work on the front-end and the back-end without any discontinuation in the process. 

Here is a brief description of the mean stack components.

  • AngularJS: It is the front-end framework that runs the code in the user browser.
  • NodeJS: It is the runtime system that implements Javascript on the back-end web application.
  • ExpressJS: It is the back-end application that runs on top of NodeJS.
  • MongoDB: It is used to store the data of back-end applications as JSON files.

One of the prominent advantages of using mean stack is that the code is in JavaScript. So, it is relatively straightforward for beginners to explore and master. Second, its unified offerings can significantly reduce development time and cost. Third, the ready-to-use solutions not only make the process software-building procedure less strenuous but also facilitate scalability. The mean stack contains various supporting libraries and reusable modules capable of delivering a scalable minimum viable product. 

Benefits of Mern stack

Mern stack is a JavaScript platform comprising MongoDB, Express, React, and Node. The use of Java-based technologies in this stack helps developers create visually compelling products with practical application logic and database access. The following elements make up the mern stack:

  • ReactJS: It is a library that facilitates creating the user interface components of single-page web applications. 
  • NodeJS: It is a runtime environment capable of running JavaScript on a machine.
  • ExpressJS: It is a layered framework built on top of NodeJS that takes care of the website’s back-end functionality and structure.
  • MongoDB: It is a document-oriented No-SQL data store. 

As for the merits, mern stack supports MVC architecture and incorporates an extensive set of testing capabilities. Similar to mean stack, it covers the entire software development cycle (front-end and back-end) and boasts of a qualified open-source community. Moreover, developers only need to have prior knowledge of JS and JSON to try their hand at mern stack. Finally, ReactJS facilitates the code to run on the browser as well as the server.

It is an isomorphic language that simplifies developers’ jobs to a great extent in the modern business environment where they may have to create pages on both places, such as for SEO purposes. React is trendy and user-friendly as it does not necessitate templating. In other programming languages, you have to practice creating HTML or DOM elements repeatedly. 

Factors influencing the final decision

As you would have observed, the primary difference between mean stack and mern stack is the use of AngularJS and ReactJS, respectively. Angular offers a stable platform for maintaining abstraction in your code and managing project files. On the other hand, the React library permits code development at a much faster rate. 

Now that we have highlighted the positive characteristics of mean and mern stacks, we must also look at their use cases. 

1. Enterprise-level projects: If you are looking to build an enterprise-level application like LinkedIn, you would have to maintain a comprehensive architecture. For this reason, you should prefer a mean stack over mern stack. It would give you a well-organized framework to support a Model-View-Controller architecture. Although MERN backs the MVC design, MEAN makes it relatively easy to manage the code and upgrade it.

2. UI requirements: If you prefer sophisticated yet simple UI rendering for your application, MERN is your go-to framework to achieve that. It can generate a frame and display it on the screen in no time, ensuring a smooth user interaction. 

3. Third-party support: The ease of using third-party libraries is another factor to consider when working on enterprise-level applications. MEAN has AngularJS, which comes with its built-in features to support http calls and connect to the back-end. However, ReactJS has additional libraries to bring in the same functionality. MEAN takes care of third-party extensions in a plug-and-play fashion, whereas MERN requires additional configurations to do the same. 

4. Large-scale applications: If you are interested in an eCommerce type project, the mean stack is an ideal choice. It can act as the backbone of dynamic web applications and introduce an organized method for creating prototypes. Mean stack is the recommended choice of full-stack development frameworks for large-scale projects. 

5. Niche projects: Mern stack lets you build and deploy a CRUD application from start to finish. The use of React makes it easy to handle rapidly changing data while delivering an impressive user interface. You would be better off using MERN for a small sample project, whether it is a single-page application or a mobile app. 

Therefore, no single framework is a silver bullet. You would have to study the features and match them with your rapid development needs. 

Check out: Full-stack Vs MEAN stack – Learn The Difference Between Full Stack & Mean Stack Developer

Wrapping up

This discussion about mean stack vs. mern stack brings us to the end of this article. To recap, we understood what full-stack development was all about and followed up with the difference between mean stack and mern stack. In this overview, we zeroed in on the advantages of using each of the technology stacks, and finally, recommended the best option under varied scenarios. 

If you’re interested to learn more about full-stack development, check out upGrad & IIIT-B’s PG Diploma in Full-stack Software Development which is designed for working professionals and offers 500+ hours of rigorous training, 9+ projects, and assignments, IIIT-B Alumni status, practical hands-on capstone projects & job assistance with top firms.

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