Nowadays, there are a host of technologies that are used to create web applications. It can get difficult to decide which technology to use, especially when there are tons of options. When it comes to technologies, the MERN stack is one of the leading technologies.
According to a hacker rank development report, more than 30% of developers are well-versed in React JS, making it more popular than the MEAN stack.
If you’re thinking of using the MERN stack in your next application, read this article as it will give you enough insights about the MERN stack and why you should use it for web applications.
What is MERN Stack?
There are four components in the MERN stack
Each component of MERN plays a specific role that we must comprehend.
It’s a document-based database that’s structured specifically to store data in JSON documents. Furthermore, it has dynamic schemas and you don’t have to rewrite your application to add new fields.
Replication ensures high availability by storing multiple copies of documents across multiple machines; developers can perform note operations on multiple nodes in parallel.
You may have already used it without realizing it — the Facebook App is built in part with React JS.
Furthermore, it’s quite similar to Python’s Twisted and Ruby’s event machine. These are scalable networking engines.
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MERN Stack: Why should you use it?
1. Open-source technology
Most startups are more drifted towards the MERN stack as it’s an open-source code that can be leveraged to build robust web applications. It’s been used by most tech giants as its all components are open source.
2. Free templates
Customizing a theme is quite time-consuming as it will consume the almost double time of downloading. However, you can find tons of free templates that end up saving a lot of time.
Also, if you bump into a problem, you can get assistance from experts.
In fact, you can ask questions and get feedback on your code. There will always be experts by your side.
3. Builds at a faster rate
MERN stack is an open-source technology enabling the developers to use it without any restrictions and don’t have to start from scratch.
For instance, if you’re looking forward to building a blogging platform, there will be a higher chance that someone might have already created an in-demand framework similar to WordPress.
You just have to comply with the set-up instructions and then can customize according to the requirements. This kind of plug-and-play approach gives you leverage over big corporations as the larger they are the higher the chances to strike with true and tired solutions.
4. Easy to Use
The MERN stack is quite easy to learn and deploy making it highly popular and the perfect choice for beginners who are new to the field of web development.
Often, when the tools are in abundance, it can get a tad difficult to learn and understand each part of development. You will have to dig and dive deeper into the tools to use them effectively. However, this technology is quite easier to use making it far easier to implement.
In addition, if you’re new to web development, it’s highly recommended to kickstart with a MERN stack application as it will be easy to learn and access.
5. Full-stack development
MERN stack works best in both front-end and back-end development as it’s full-stack development. It’s based on software engineering principles and UI design.
In fact, the foremost reason behind its high demand and popularity is that it saves money as you don’t have to hire separate front-end and back-end developers for web development.
6. Community Support
MERN stack is backed by a strong community. All your queries can easily be addressed. It minimizes the development time enabling you to release products at a faster rate with less money.
7. Native experience
Native applications are highly scalable, secure, and robust which creates an interactive user experience. This results in more startups gravitating toward building mobile applications on hybrid frameworks such as react native or Ionic.
These frameworks although Kook is impressive when it comes to performance they highly lacking. However, a mobile application built on the MERN stack won’t disappoint you as it can flawlessly sync data exchange in online and offline states by leveraging some of its native features such as camera access.
Also, it becomes easier to monetize and enables developers to emphasize features that can be of great value to work on. Apparently, it’s not possible in app development used with hybrid technologies.
How to set up a basic MERN Stack project?
let’s roll up our sleeves and delve into the step-by-step process of setting up a basic MERN Stack project. We’ll leave no stone unturned, ensuring you have a thorough understanding of each stage:
Step 1: Install Node.js
Before you begin, ensure that you have Node.js installed on your system. If not, visit the official Node.js website to download and install it.
Step 2: Create a New Project Directory
Open your terminal and create a new project directory using the
mkdir command. This directory will serve as the home for your MERN project.
Step 3: Initialize a Node.js Application
Navigate to your newly created project directory in the terminal and run the command
npm init. This command will initiate the setup process for your Node.js application and guide you through creating the
package.json file, where project dependencies are stored.
Step 4: Install Dependencies
With your project initialized, it’s time to install the necessary dependencies. Execute the command
npm install express react react-dom to install Express.js, React, and React-dom. These packages are fundamental to our MERN project.
Step 5: Set Up Your Server
Create an Express.js server within your project directory. Define routes, middleware, and any necessary configurations. Your server will act as the backend of your MERN application, handling requests and responses.
Step 6: Create a React App
To build the frontend of your project, we’ll use Create React App. In the terminal, execute the command
npx create-react-app client to set up a React application within a subdirectory named ‘client.’ This separation keeps your project organized.
Step 7: Connect React and Express
Configure your React app to communicate with the Express.js server. Ensure that API calls and data retrieval are seamless between the front end and backend. This integration is essential for a functional MERN application.
Step 8: Start Your Application
Now that both your server and client are set up, it’s time to see your project in action. In separate terminal windows, navigate to the server and client directories and execute
npm start to launch your MERN application. Your server will typically run on port 3000, while your React development server will run on port 3001.
Advantages of Using the MERN Stack
The choice of technology stack plays a pivotal role in achieving these goals. One such technology stack that has gained significant popularity and acclaim is the MERN stack. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the various advantages of using the MERN stack for web development. From enhanced productivity to scalability and performance, MERN offers a wide array of benefits that make it a compelling choice for developers and businesses alike.
Components of the MERN Stack
Each component of the MERN stack plays a specific role in web development:
- MongoDB: The database layer that stores and manages data efficiently.
- Express.js: The backend framework that handles server-side logic and routing.
- React.js: The frontend library responsible for creating dynamic user interfaces.
1. Rapid Development
React for Frontend
One of the standout advantages of using the MERN stack is the rapid development facilitated by React. React’s component-based architecture allows developers to create reusable UI components, reducing redundancy and speeding up development. Moreover, React’s virtual DOM efficiently updates only the necessary parts of the interface, resulting in faster rendering times and a smoother user experience.
MongoDB for Database
MongoDB’s schema-less design allows developers to make changes to the database structure on the fly, eliminating the need for time-consuming migrations. This flexibility speeds up development as developers can focus more on building features and less on database maintenance.
2. Reusability of Code
React promotes code reusability through its component-based architecture. Developers can create modular components that can be easily reused across different parts of the application. This not only accelerates development but also ensures consistency and maintainability of the codebase.
Node.js allows developers to modularize their server-side code using CommonJS modules. This modular approach encourages code reusability and simplifies the maintenance of backend logic.
4. Rich User Interfaces
Single Page Applications (SPAs)
The MERN stack excels at building single-page applications (SPAs) where the entire application loads as a single page, and subsequent content is fetched dynamically. This approach provides a seamless and responsive user experience similar to that of native applications.
React Component Library
React’s vast component library, including third-party libraries and custom components, empowers developers to create rich and interactive user interfaces with ease. This leads to visually appealing web applications that engage users effectively.
Server-Side Rendering (SSR)
SEO is a critical aspect of web development, and the MERN stack addresses this with server-side rendering (SSR). SSR ensures that search engines can crawl and index content effectively, leading to better visibility in search results and improved organic traffic.
SEO Optimization Tools
Numerous SEO optimization tools and libraries are available for React, making it easier for developers to implement SEO best practices and improve a website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The MERN stack is designed for scalability. MongoDB’s horizontal scaling capabilities allow applications to handle a growing user base and increasing data without significant performance degradation. This ensures that your application can grow with your business needs.
In addition to horizontal scaling, Node.js enables vertical scaling by efficiently utilizing system resources. This means that a single server can handle increased load by making the most of available CPU and memory.
7. Community Support
A Thriving Ecosystem
The MERN stack benefits from a large and active developer community. This community continuously contributes to the stack’s improvement by creating plugins, libraries, and extensions that enhance functionality and simplify development.
Abundance of Learning Resources
For developers looking to learn or enhance their MERN stack skills, there is an abundance of online tutorials, courses, and documentation available. This wealth of resources ensures that developers can easily acquire and hone their expertise in the stack.
Versatile Technology Choices
The MERN stack offers flexibility in technology choices. For instance, while MongoDB is the default database, developers can choose alternative databases like PostgreSQL or MySQL based on specific project requirements. This flexibility allows for tailored solutions.
Developers have the freedom to design and structure their applications according to their needs. This means that the MERN stack can accommodate a wide range of project types, from small web applications to large-scale enterprise solutions.
9. Real-Time Web Applications
WebSockets with Node.js
Node.js’s event-driven architecture makes it an ideal choice for developing real-time applications. By integrating WebSockets, developers can create chat applications, live gaming platforms, or collaborative tools that offer instant data updates to users.
Instant Data Updates
Real-time applications built with the MERN stack provide users with the advantage of receiving instant updates without the need for manual refreshing. This real-time interaction enhances user engagement and satisfaction.
Security is paramount in web development, and the MERN stack offers robust security measures. Data encryption ensures that sensitive information is protected during transmission and storage, safeguarding user data from potential threats.
Authentication and Authorization
Node.js provides authentication and authorization mechanisms that allow developers to implement user access controls effectively. This ensures that only authorized users can access certain parts of the application, enhancing security.
11. Cost-Effective Development
Open Source Technologies
All components of the MERN stack are open source, which means no licensing costs. This makes it an economical choice for startups and businesses looking to minimize development expenses.
Reduced Development Time
The combination of reusable components, a vast ecosystem of libraries, and a clear development structure reduces the time required to build web applications, ultimately lowering development costs.
12. Performance Optimization
Minification and Bundling
Caching and Compression
Node.js allows developers to implement caching and compression techniques, further enhancing performance by reducing server response times and bandwidth consumption.
13. Cross-Platform Compatibility
Web, Mobile, and Desktop Apps
The versatility of the MERN stack extends beyond web applications. Developers can leverage the same codebase to create mobile apps using React Native or desktop applications using Electron, saving time and effort.
React Native Integration
React Native seamlessly integrates with the MERN stack, enabling the development of cross-platform mobile applications with a native look and feel.
14. DevOps Integration
DevOps practices are easily integrated into the MERN stack development process. Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines can be set up to automate testing, build, and deployment processes, ensuring a streamlined development workflow.
Automated testing tools and frameworks, such as Jest and Enzyme for React and Mocha for Node.js, simplify the testing of MERN stack applications, improving code quality and reliability.
15. Large Community and Talent Pool
Access to Skilled Developers
The popularity of the MERN stack means that businesses have access to a large pool of skilled developers who are experienced in building applications using these technologies. This makes it easier to find the right talent for your project.
Active Developer Community
The MERN stack’s active developer community means that developers can readily find solutions to common issues and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in web development.
16. Industry Adoption
Many successful companies and startups have adopted the MERN stack for their web development needs. These success stories serve as a testament to the stack’s reliability and effectiveness in delivering robust applications.
Examining real-world case studies of businesses that have benefited from the MERN stack can provide valuable insights into how this technology can be applied to various industries and use cases.
17. Versatility in Project Types
The MERN stack is suitable for a wide range of web applications, from content-based websites to complex e-commerce platforms. Its flexibility allows developers to tailor solutions to specific project requirements.
E-commerce businesses can leverage the MERN stack to create feature-rich and scalable online shopping platforms. The stack’s real-time capabilities and performance optimization are particularly advantageous for e-commerce websites.
18. Continuous Updates and Improvements
Frequent Library Updates
The libraries and frameworks in the MERN stack receive frequent updates and improvements. This ensures that developers have access to the latest features, security patches, and enhancements.
Node.js LTS Versions
Node.js maintains long-term support (LTS) versions, providing stability and security for production applications. LTS versions receive updates for an extended period, giving businesses confidence in the stack’s reliability.
19. Third-Party Integration
The MERN stack seamlessly integrates with external services and APIs through RESTful API endpoints. This enables developers to incorporate third-party functionality and data into their applications.
For more advanced data querying and manipulation, developers can implement GraphQL, which offers greater flexibility and efficiency in handling API requests.
20. Future-Proof Technology
Longevity and Sustainability
The MERN stack’s continued popularity and ongoing development make it a future-proof choice for web development projects. Businesses can expect long-term support and a technology stack that evolves with industry trends.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
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Common Challenges When Working With the MERN Stack
1. Setting Up the Development Environment
One of the initial hurdles when working with the MERN stack is configuring the development environment correctly. This stack involves various technologies, and ensuring they work seamlessly together can be a daunting task for beginners. MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node.js each require specific installations and configurations, making it essential to follow precise steps to avoid compatibility issues.
2. Handling Asynchronous Operations
Node.js is known for its non-blocking, asynchronous nature, which can be a double-edged sword. While it enables high concurrency and responsiveness, managing asynchronous operations can lead to callback hell or “pyramid of doom.” Developers must adopt best practices like using Promises or async/await to maintain code readability and scalability.
3. Scalability and Performance
As your MERN stack application grows, ensuring scalability and optimal performance becomes paramount. MongoDB’s flexibility may lead to inefficient data models, and React’s virtual DOM may cause unnecessary re-renders. To address these issues, developers must employ proper data modeling techniques and implement performance optimization strategies.
4. Security Concerns
Security is a major concern in web development, and the MERN stack is no exception. Developers must be vigilant about common vulnerabilities like Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), and data breaches. Utilizing security libraries, validating user input, and following best practices is essential to protect your MERN application.
5. Debugging and Error Handling
6. Continuous Integration and Deployment
Implementing a smooth CI/CD pipeline for a MERN stack application can be complex. Ensuring automated testing, version control, and deployment to various environments demands careful planning. Tools like Jenkins, Travis CI, or GitHub Actions can simplify the CI/CD process.
7. Compatibility Issues
Maintaining compatibility among the different versions of MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node.js can be challenging. It’s crucial to stay updated with the latest releases and dependencies to avoid compatibility issues that may arise during development.
8. Learning Curve
For developers transitioning to the MERN stack from other technologies, there can be a steep learning curve. React’s component-based architecture, Express.js middleware, and MongoDB’s NoSQL database structure may require time and effort to grasp fully.
Comprehensive documentation is essential for any technology stack. Developers often struggle when there is a lack of clear, up-to-date documentation for MERN stack libraries and frameworks. Contributing to open-source projects or relying on community-generated content can help bridge this gap.
10. Managing State
In React applications, managing state can become complex as the app scales. Developers may encounter challenges with prop drilling or global state management. Implementing state management libraries like Redux or Mobx can alleviate this issue.
Working with the MERN stack offers tremendous advantages in terms of productivity and flexibility. However, it’s essential to be aware of and prepared for the challenges that may arise during development. By addressing these challenges head-on, developers can harness the full potential of the MERN stack and create outstanding web applications.
MERN has some powerful tools such as ReactJS, NodeJS, MongoDB, and Express making it the best combination to use in web development.
In addition, modularity is its most preferable and notable feature by utilizing each component to build something effective that is greater than its parts. Also, modularity enables you to create custom solutions based on your requirements making it a highly adaptable feature.