What is the MEAN Stack? | SoloLearn: Learn to code for FREE!

What is the MEAN Stack?

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For beginning and experienced developers alike, working with JavaScript has a broad array of benefits, both in terms of the capabilities of the language as well as industry demands for talented developers to build projects and solve problems. Once fluent in the basics of the language and you set your sights on more complex projects though, it becomes quickly evident that determining the right tech stack is a critical decision in order to create dynamic and professional JavaScript applications.

So what is the MEAN Stack then?

The MEAN Stack is an acronym standing for four different JavaScript-based technologies (MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and Node.JS). The MEAN Stack is particularly useful and optimized for work with cloud-hosted applications. Because the different technologies are all flexible, scaleable, and adaptable to a variety of needs, the stack offers an elegant solution for the unique demands of the cloud.

Learning to use the MEAN Stack makes you very attractive as a potential developer for JavaScript-based apps and companies, since fluency with the different applications allows for smaller, more efficient and streamlined development teams. Full stack MEAN developers have a market advantage over developers who only have limited experience with one or two of the applications. 

The Four Different Components of the MEAN Stack

MongoDB

MongoDB is an open source, NoSQL database designed for cloud applications. It uses object-oriented organization instead of a relational model. In the MEAN stack, MongoDB is the home of all of the application data. Because Mongo operates in JavaScript along with the application proper, there’s no need to translate the object as it journeys from the application to the database and back. This means the process is streamlined between front and back of house, making the application seamless.

MongoDB is particularly lauded for its ability to handle large amounts of data while still allowing for efficient data access. Fields can be added to the database without reloading the entire table, and with just a few clicks, the resources available to your database can be expanded. This is essential in cloud-based environments with unpredictable spikes in user activity and server load.

Express

Express is a web application framework for Node.js, operating as the back-end of the MEAN stack. This means Express manages all interactions between the front-end and the database, providing smooth access and transfer of data to the end user. Since the framework was built with Node functionality in mind, it likewise ensures uniformity in the stack and easier work between the tools.

Express is designed to be both efficient and practical - while it is meant to operate more behind the scenes, Express also offers a variety of helpful tools that can prevent user error and avoid unwanted complications. For example, it uses the CommonJS module standard to prevent inadvertent overwriting of variables within the shared namespace. This can prevent accidental redefining of previous variables, and the subsequent costly errors that ensue.

AngularJS

The gold standard of JavaScript front-end frameworks, Angular is increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. It offers the ability to develop simultaneously for front-end and back-end use, it includes a variety of easy-to-use templates, and the ever-growing numbers of users mean that the application itself has been improved and optimized into a well-oiled development machine.

Much as is the case with the other elements of the stack, Angular is included because it seamlessly operates with JavaScript and thus, with the other aspects of the back-end and database. Angular is also notable for the expanded HTML language and potential it provides developers, as well as a development environment focused on readability and ease of use.

Node.js

Node.js is an open source JavaScript framework that uses asynchronous events to process multiple connections simultaneously. It is an ideal framework for a cloud-based application, as it can effortlessly scale requests on demand. Node.js is rapidly becoming the standard through most major web applications dealing with massive or unpredictable spikes in volume or customer requests.

Node.js is the spine that brings the entire MEAN Stack together. Since Express is literally designed to operate on top of Node.js, and AngularJS integrates seamlessly to Node.js for optimal data processing, Node provides the final piece of the puzzle - an integrated web server, that allows you to easily connect and deploy your MongoDB-powered application to the cloud.

Node.js can support as many as a million simultaneous connections, making it the lynchpin that ensures your processing power and other operations function to their maximum potential. Any owner or host of a cloud application can tell you the stress of usage surges and the potential of major damage to a business or brand from outages, which is why Node is so widely used - it’s been proven by major companies and apps to be up to the task of handling those surges.

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So why should I learn the MEAN Stack?

Aside from the benefits of the different MEAN stack technologies, there are some practical reasons for developers new and experienced to become familiar with the MEAN stack for their own professional and personal goals:

Cloud-Based Applications are the Norm

Since cloud-based applications offer startup and business owners significant benefits over traditional hosting, and the growing number of cloud providers have cut costs to very reasonable levels, the demand for cloud app developers has risen in conjunction. Companies are now tailoring their business model specifically to cloud-based platforms, and the shortage of skilled developers has only expanded over the past few years.

This means instead of being a JavaScript specialist (where companies may only need you for specific app work), a MEAN stack developer can work on all aspects of a company’s stack and be an interchangeable part of a development team. This saves companies effort and money, reducing the amount of hiring and staff management needed and offering flexibility and responsiveness if a problem arises with an application.

You’ll Have the Resources of the Rapidly Expanding JavaScript Community

Long established as a versatile, functional, and flexible programming language, JavaScript’s widespread popularity has led to one of the most diverse and innovative communities of developers. With so many talented programmers working within a single language and set of tools, the different elements of the MEAN stack are constantly being tinkered with, improved, and optimized for future project needs and to resolve existing weaknesses.

This broad base of support is invaluable for any developer. As you work on a particular project or attempt to solve problems rising from an app needing new functionality or data services, the broad JavaScript community offers many sounding boards and resources to turn to for advice, help, and troubleshooting. No need to solve every problem on your own!

But how do I get started?

As with any programming tool or language, the best thing to do is to find a high-quality online coding class to hone your skills. Coding classes like the ones at SoloLearn offer not only comprehensive breakdowns of different languages and tools, but also the chance to unlock achievements, compete against fellow students, and learn at your own pace. Get started on your MEAN stack knowledge now! 

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