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MERN Stack: Explained

Mariel Lettier

Table of Content

What is the MERN Stack?
What makes up the MERN Stack?
How do they all work together?
​​FAQs about MERN Stack
Why use the MERN Stack?
How to learn the MERN Stack?

Do you usually work with a specific tech stack? Do you have a favorite one? We'll focus on a popular web app development choice: the MERN Stack. Below, we'll explain what this stack is, the different technologies that it's made up of, and what makes it a great choice. We'll also go over some frequently asked questions about this particular stack. Further, we'll provide some resources if you want to specialize in the MERN Stack. Let's go!

What is the MERN Stack?

The MERN Stack is a collection of technologies used to develop web applications. It was developed by Facebook back in 2013. MERN is an acronym for the four technologies used: MongoDB, Express.JS, React, and Node. This collection of techs aims to make the development process easier and smoother.

What makes up the MERN Stack?

What makes up the MERN Stack?

MongoDB

MongoDB is one of the market's most popular NoSQL database management software (DBMS). It's necessary for any data that needs to be stored in the app (such as content, user profiles, and uploads). MongoDB works exceptionally well with the other technologies in this stack. The DBMS is document-based, supports scalability and agility, and has speedy query performance. If you want to see a case study involving MongoDB, look here! You can also learn more about database management software in this article.

Express

Express is a server-side Node framework. The framework is minimalistic and unopinionated. Further, it's asynchronous, single-threaded, efficient, fast, and scalable. Express provides server-side logic for apps. It's usable for single-page, multipage, and hybrid web app building.

React

Although many people refer to React as a framework, it is a front-end JavaScript library. This library is open-source and used to build user interfaces (UIs) for the web. React is a top-rated tool for development companies of all sizes. Its main features include being declarative, simple, and supporting the server-side. It's also fast, easy to learn, and component-based. You can learn more about React here!

Node.JS

Node—or Node.JS—is a JavaScript environment to build scalable network apps. Node is asynchronous and event-driven. It is also open-source, cross-platform, single-threaded, fast, and scalable. Node's benefits include improved developer productivity and satisfaction and reduced development costs. Moreover, it has an easy learning curve and a large community. If you want to see an example of Node in action, you can look at this project. Also, you can learn more about Node (and how it works with Flutter).

How do they all work together?

The MERN Stack uses a 3-tier architecture comprising the front end, the back end, and a database. React is in charge of the Front-End. You then have Node and Express for the back end or server-side. Finally, MongoDB is the database chosen for this stack. These components use JavaScript and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) to create web applications. React makes up the top tier, in charge of building the interface for your web application. Then Express, which runs inside a Node server, works on the Back -End. Express functions can connect to the React Front-End via XML HTTP Requests, GETs, or POSTs. MongoDB's role is to store any data for your application. You can send JSON documents created in the React front end to the Express server for processing and storage in the MongoDB database. You can look at this showcase to see an example of products developed with the MERN Stack!

MERN Stack with React Native

If you were wondering if you could also create a mobile app with the MERN Stack, the answer is yes. In this case, you'll need to add React Native to the mix. To give you a bit of context, React Native is an open-source framework built on top of ReactJS. The framework is used to develop native mobile apps. Moreover, it's cross-platform, meaning you can use it for iOS and Android. Its benefits include faster development, creating a native interface, and easy testing.

MERN Stack with TypeScript

The MERN Stack is not only flexible on the front-end framework. This tutorial shows that you can also use a different programming language. Also, if you want to learn more about TypeScript, you can check out this article.

FAQs about MERN Stack

​​FAQs about MERN Stack

Now that we know what it is and how it works let's focus on some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the MERN stack.

Is MERN Stack Front-End or Back-End?

As we've already seen, the MERN Stack includes different technologies to focus on both the front and the back end. As a result, it provides full-stack development. React handles the front end, while Node and Express deal with the back end.

Which companies use MERN Stack?

There are companies of all shapes and sizes currently using the MERN Stack. These include major players such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tesla, Oculus, and Discord.

MERN Stack versus MEAN Stack

The main difference between these two technology stacks is that MEAN uses Angular instead of React for the front end. Angular is not as popular as React, but it is still a robust framework. This change in framework gives different purposes to these two stacks. The MEAN Stack focuses more on file management and abstraction in coding, while the MERN Stack helps you code faster. Moreover, the MEAN Stack is more productive when building large-scale apps, while the MERN Stack is the best option for building small apps in less time. If you want to learn more about the differences between React and Angular, you can check out our article on this topic (which also includes Vue.JS). Also, if you want to take a more in-depth look into the differences between the two types of stacks, you can read this article.

Why use the MERN Stack?

You might be wondering what makes the MERN Stack so great. This section will focus on the advantages of using these four technologies together.

• All its technologies are open-source and are constantly improved.
• The stack is easy to use and makes it easy to build apps quite quickly.
• It offers full-stack development, meaning the four techs work together to create a final product.
• All the technologies are prevalent and have excellent community support.
• As JavaScript is used for both the front and the back end, no context switching is required.
• Developers with knowledge of JavaScript and JSON will have no significant issues using this stack.
• The MERN Stack makes code maintenance and bug fixing easy, making this stack cost-effective.

How to learn the MERN Stack?

How to learn the MERN Stack?

As all of the technologies involved in the MERN Stack are built on JavaScript, learning this programming language should be the first step of the process. Once you have a basic understanding of JS, you can start learning about the four tools. The best way to cement this knowledge is to put your skills to the test with a small project. Below, we'll review some free and paid resources to help you master the MERN Stack.

JavaScript

Free

The Modern JavaScript Tutorial
• Udemy's JavaScript Fundamentals
JavaScript 30

Paid

• Udemy's The Complete JavaScript
• Pluralsight's JavaScript: Getting Started
• Educative's Complete JavaScript

React

Free

• Codevolution's ReactJS Tutorial
The official React docs
• CodeCamp's React.js Basics

Paid

• Udemy's Modern React with Redux
• Pluralsight's React 17: Getting Started

Node and Express

Free

• CodeCamp's Back-End Dev
• Coursera's Server-side Development with NodeJS, Express, and MongoDB
• Udemy's Intro to Node JS and Express

Paid

• Udemy's Complete Node.js Developer
• Udemy's Learn and Understand NodeJS course
• Codecademy's Learn Express course

MongoDB

Free

• CodeCamp's MongoDB Atlas Tutorial
• 3T Software Labs' MongoDB tutorials
MongoDB University courses

Paid

• Udemy's The Complete Developers Guide to MongoDB
• Pluralsight's Introduction to MongoDB 2

Full MERN Stack

Free

• Udemy's Build CRUD App Using MERN
• CodeCamp's Learn the MERN Stack

Paid

• Udemy's MERN Stack Front To Back
• Coursera's Full Stack Dev with React
• Pluralsight's Building a Full-Stack App with React 16 and Express 4

These are just some of the resources available for guidance. You are sure to find many more, and some options will adjust to your specific needs and skills.

Conclusion

The MERN Stack has many advantages, both from the development and the business side. Moreover, all four tools that make up the stack work with JavaScript, considerably simplifying the learning process. We hope this article has given you a clear overview of the MERN Stack and provided you with all the relevant resources.


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