What is MERN stack?

October 4,2020 - 7 min read
 What is MERN stack?

A technological stack is a collection of frameworks, tools and languages which can be collaborated to develop a software product. The technologies are not randomly assembled but carefully chosen to work together for creating a single application.

Some of the most popular technological stacks are LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, Nodejs) and others. In this blog, we are going to talk about MERN stack.

It’s very important to choose the right stack for your application. The right technological stack would deliver optimum speed and highest performance. It is easy for developers to code better and faster if the technological stack chosen is appropriate. Other than that, use of technological stack makes the process of documentation flexible and uncomplicated.

In this blog we are going to talk about one of the most popular technological stacks, the MERN stack. Let’s get started.

What is MERN Stack?

MERN stack is basically an acronym for MongoDB, Express, React and Nodejs. The MERN stack is used to develop web applications right from scratch. Each of these four technologies provide an end to end solution to developers to make the process of building an application smoother and easier.

The MERN stack is basically a free and open source Javascript stack which can be used to build dynamic web applications. The MERN stack consists of a database, both server side and client-side framework. In order to understand MERN stack, we need to understand each component of the MERN stack. Let’s begin the journey of understanding each and every constituent of the MERN stack.

What is MongoDB in MERN Stack?

MongoDB is the database tier in the MERN stack. MongoDB is used in the development process primarily for storing data. If your application requires you to store user data like images, responses, comments, events etc. then you need a database.

MongoDB is an open source, cross-platform document-oriented database program. MongoDB uses JSON-like documents and the use of schema is optional. While we understand that a database is a physical container for collections, there are a few terms that are usually different from a typical database.

The document in MongoDB is a set of key-value pairs. Basically, a document is a tuple or a row in relational database management system (RDBMS). Similarly, the field in MongoDB is the same as the column in RDBMS. A collection in MongoDB is a group of MongoDB documents. It is equivalent to a table in RDBMS.

MongoDB is one of the most important pillars in the MERN stack. It allows developers to access data directly from the front-end code.

Using MongoDB over RDBMS has many advantages. MongoDB is a document database and is schema less. The characteristics of one document can differ from another. MongoDB is a schema less database and this is one of its most attractive advantages. There are no more schema migrations and your code defines the schema in MongoDB.

MongoDB supports dynamic query using a document-based query language that is as powerful as SQL. MongoDB supports applications that are data intensive as well; it is used to build highly scalable and efficient applications.

The database enjoys professional support by MongoDB. It is a next generation database that helps businesses transform by harnessing the power of data.

What is Express in MERN Stack?

An elementary definition of Express is a ‘web framework for Node JS.’ While this definition encompasses the major functionalities of Express, it fails to capture the efficiency and excellence, Express in Node JS brings in a developer’s life.

A debugging mechanism, template engines, handling HTTP requests and much more. The Express encompasses in itself numerous features that aid developers. To get a hang of this amazing framework, it is essential to understand Express in Node JS in a more detailed manner.

According to the official website, Express is fast, unopinionated and minimalist. The framework delivers high performance and fast delivery. The framework has features of web applications but that doesn’t mean Node JS is neglected. Express makes sure the features you are already familiar with don’t get lost with the advent of new ones. Imagine Express as a layer of an additional and cool set of features built on top of Node JS.

Express follows the philosophy of 'Less is more.' The minimalistic nature is efficient yet beautiful because it doesn't come in the way of a developer's expression.

But other than being highly efficient, Express is unopinionated. It doesn’t come with a pre-defined set of rules which you have to follow. There are minimal restrictions; developers have the freedom to augment their possibilities and create codes using varied components together. Add middleware packages, structure the app into one or multiple files or use any directory structure. The point is that this is an unopinionated framework which sets you free. No stereotypes, expectations or judgements, at Express you express uninhibited!

More often than not, all other frameworks provide a robust set of features but are way too complicated for beginners. Even before the first line is coded, there is a plethora of functions that burden the developer unnecessarily. Express takes care of that. It is quite a flexible framework that allows developers to add what they want to only when they need to and not otherwise!

What is REACT in MERN Stack?

Reactjs, essentially a javascript library. It is used to build fast and interactive user interfaces for web and mobile applications. One of the most attractive features of React is that it is open source, developers can easily access the source code and modify it according to their application. React is the ‘view’ part of a MVC (model view controller) model, as it is responsible for what the application looks like.

Jordan Walke, an engineer at Facebook, built this excellent Javascript library that is now being used by millions to create excellent experiences on web.

Any Reactjs developer would agree that components are one of the most useful features of Reactjs. They are rightly known as the building blocks of React. The main advantage of components is that they divide the UI interface into independent and reusable bits of code. This division of makes it easier for you to build and maintain applications. Components let the developers maintain their application faster and more efficiently as multiple developers can work together at the same time on different components on the same application.

React lets you easily build dynamic web applications with enhanced performance. The components that React uses are reusable which saves time and makes the development of application an easier and more flexible process. React is easier to learn as compared to other frameworks and there are a number of recent developments like the latest extension in React which can be used to cross compatible make mobile applications.

React has an easy debugging mechanism, it makes use of a virtual DOM which improves the performance and speed of the application. Another outstanding feature of React is one-way data binding that keeps everything modular and fast.

What is Nodejs in MERN Stack?

Nodejs is a powerful Javascript framework used to develop

  • server-side applications
  • networking applications in distributed systems
  • real time web applications
  • ones interacting with hardware
  • and other common purpose software.

Applications built with the help on Nodejs is fast and highly scalable. Nodejs can generate dynamic content on webpages, it can collect data produced through forms and add, delete or modify the database you are using in your project.

This Javascript framework is built on Chrome’s V8 engine written in C++. It is used as a compiler and it executes the code at an impressive speed which leaves no chance for buffering or time lag. It uses Javascript as its scripting language and runs on the V8 environment.

Nodejs is a cross platform runtime environment that means it is capable of running on various platforms like windows, LINUX, UNIX etc.

The architecture of Nodejs is single threaded and asynchronous in nature. We will learn more about it in detail later in this article itself.

One important thing to note is that Nodejs is open source and free. Anybody can use it for free of cost and can contribute to its development.

Now that we have garnered sufficient information on each of the components of MERN stack, it’s time we understand how each of these components work in collaboration to build a successful web application.

What is MERN Stack?

The MERN stack is very similar to MEAN stack, except for literally the word ‘A’. The difference between MEAN stack and MERN stack is the former uses Angular whereas MERN stack uses React.

The question that might pop up in your head is, why React? The answer is that React is a very flexible and easy to use option when compared to Angular. It is a very popular framework and makes high quality web application.

The MERN Stack refers to a collection of Javascript technologies that are used to build web applications.

  • This stack consists of React for displaying the end result to the user (basically the front end).
  • Mongo Db database for storing and retrieving data.
  • Node JS for handling client and server requests
  • And of course, Express for making the request to the database and returning a response.

The step by step procedure of how the request is received and processed is given below -

  1. In the first step, the client makes a request which goes to React.
  2. The request is then parsed by the Node JS server.
  3. The express makes a request to the database which in this case is MongoDB.
  4. The database then returns the request.
  5. React displays the output as the final step.

This was a concise compilation of working of the MERN stack and how an application is built, deployed and used by customers to perform functions.

If you now understand the MERN stack, it would be great if you build a very basic web or mobile application using the technologies of the MERN stack.

We have tried to cover every important aspect of the MERN stack right from the basic components to its functioning. However, if you feel there are some aspects of MERN stack that we omitted or if you have any doubts regarding the topics discussed above, please feel free to ask questions and we would be more than happy to answer.

This blog was a comprehensive compilation of the workings of all components of MERN stack. We hope you now have a clear understanding of MERN stack. If you are confident and excited to become a MERN stack developer, the next step should be implementing theoretical knowledge and building real life applications.

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