What is the MEAN Stack? MEAN Stack Development 101: A Complete Guide
What is the MEAN Stack?
- MongoDB – document database
- Express(.js) – Node.js web framework
There are variations to the MEAN stack such as MERN (replacing Angular.js with React.js) and MEVN (using Vue.js). The MEAN stack is one of the most popular technology concepts for building web applications.
Flow of Data in MEAN Stack Application: Here, each module communicates with the others in order to have a flow of the data from Server/Backend to Client/Frontend.
How Does the MEAN Stack Work?
MEAN Stack Architecture
MEAN Stack Components
MongoDB is touted for its scalability in both storage and performance. You can add fields to the database without reloading the entire table, and MongoDB is well known for its ability to manage large amounts of data without compromising on data access. With just a few clicks, you can expand the resources available to your database, making it perfect for applications with occasional periods of increased activity.
For a deeper dive into MongoDB, see “MongoDB: An Essential Guide.”
Express is a web application framework for Node.js. It balances ease of use and a full feature set.
Express is minimalist—it’s designed to efficiently handle processes without cluttering your application. But don’t confuse minimalist with featureless. Express offers excellent error handling and templating functionality to aid your development.
Node.js is the backbone of the MEAN stack. Express is purpose-built to work on top of Node.js, and AngularJS connects seamlessly to Node.js for fast data serving. Node.js comes complete with an integrated web server, making it easy to deploy your MongoDB database and application to the cloud.
The greatest strength of Node.js is its scalability. Cloud applications are best when they can respond quickly to usage spikes. What good is virtually unlimited processing power if it’s only available after your users time out? By expanding your resources as they’re needed, you’re able to serve more users while the framework’s single-thread architecture allows the application to effectively provide a smooth user experience across numerous connections. Node.js can support as many as a million simultaneous connections.
While the MEAN stack isn’t perfect for every application, there are many uses where it excels. It’s a strong choice for developing cloud native applications because of its scalability and its ability to manage concurrent users. The AngularJS frontend framework also makes it ideal for developing single-page applications (SPAs) that serve all information and functionality on a single page. Here are a few examples for using MEAN:
- Expense tracking
- News aggregation sites
- Mapping and location finding
An example architecture for a Node.js runtime with MongoDB on a MEAN stack.
What Does a MEAN Stack Developer Do?
With MEAN development, developers can build dynamic web applications and websites through free, open-source technologies.
MEAN stack developers use the four technologies that make up a MEAN stack to develop web applications. This role isn’t all that different from a full-stack developer, meaning they also work on front and backend systems.
- Other common responsibilities and expectations include:
- Experience working with each layer of the MEAN stack: MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node.js.
- Comfort working with jQuery, PHP, and Symfony
- Testing web applications
- Deploying web applications
- Creating modules
- Designing databases
- Integrating APIs
The Benefits of MEAN Stack Architecture
MEAN applications can be used in many ways with a cross platform write once approach. While MEAN is particularly suited to real-time applications, particularly those running natively in the cloud and single-page (dynamic) web applications built in Angular.js, it can be used for other use cases such as:
- Workflow management tools.
- News aggregation sites.
- Todo and calendar applications.
- Interactive forums.
What’s caused MEAN Stack to go from a LinkedIn group favorite to the top choice for web application development across the globe? This tech stack doesn’t just have a couple of pros. It has several advantages that have fueled its success:
Each layer of the MEAN stack is made up of free, open-source technologies. As a result, developers can make use of publicly accessible libraries and repositories during the development process. One of the benefits of open source technology is that the stack is updated regularly. Developers can also tap into developing communities to ask questions, get ideas, and find solutions to issues they may come across.
Easily Swap Between Client and Server
Additionally, developers can easily add new features and modules during or after development. You can create prototypes, customize to meet requirements, and build scalable web applications without a lot of headaches.
MEAN is especially useful for tight schedules. Developers don’t need to create modules from scratch. Instead, they can lean on the directory of module libraries within Node.js. Plus, you won’t have to hunt down errors. You’ll be automatically notified if a feature is broken, giving you more time to fix it and move on to the next step in your project.
Another time-saving feature? MongoDB, AngularJS, and Node JS all use JSON to store data, so there’s no need to reformat data. Need to make changes in real-time? You’re in luck. Traditional web applications require you to hit refresh every time you want to see the results of a server request. MEAN uses single-page applications, so you don’t have to constantly refresh web pages for each server request.
Who is a MEAN stack developer?
A MEAN stack developer is a full stack web developer. However, a full stack developer has a broader scope and knowledge on various programming languages and stack-based frameworks.
Typical MEAN Stack Developer Requirements
Skills of a MEAN stack developer
- Basic understanding of the client-side processes and requirements.
- Basic understanding of the server-side processes and requirements.
- Basic understanding of the architecture and workflow.
- MEAN stack expertise – ability to work with Angular.js, Node.js, Express.js and MongoDB. If not Angular, then you need to know ReactJS or VueJS.
- Familiar with package manager-npm.
- Familiarity with Git and design framework like MotionUI is desirable.
- Time-management, critical thinking and communication skills are expected.
The Average MEAN Stack Developer Salary
What can MEAN stack developers expect as far as pay? According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for MEAN Stack Developers is $89,817 per year in the United States. The salary distribution ranges from $66,000 to $122,000 annually.
When Can the MEAN Stack be Used?
MEAN follows the traditional three-tier stack pattern, including the display tier (Angular.js), application tier (Express.js and Node.js), and database tier (MongoDB).
Whether you’re building a high-throughput API, a simple web application, or a microservice, MEAN is the ideal stack for building Node.js applications.
Disadvantages of the MEAN Stack
Additionally, since the development opportunity is so rapid, business and server logic might suffer from poor isolation, making potential spaghetti code and bad practices a reality along the way.
Finally, although there are many guides and tutorials out there, they generally will not include concrete JS coding guidelines appropriate for this stack. Therefore, something that worked really well for one application might surface issues for another.