Globally and in the United States, companies are getting more thoughtful about product development. Accordingly, choosing the right technology stack is becoming a crucial decision point. That’s why the MERN stack is garnering more popularity during 2023.

A technology stack is about having the right combination of programming languages, databases, tools, libraries, and frameworks. So, the MERN stack and ReactJS can build a product that can suffice current business requirements. Eventually, the right tech stack enables the product to expand and grow further to encompass future business needs.

That’s why tech stack is the basis for a product – that leads the product to excel in the market. In our series of technology stacks, this is the second episode where we will discuss the MERN stack. So, let’s begin.

What is the MERN Stack?

As a collection of JavaScript-driven technologies, the MERN stack promises faster application development. MERN stack comprises MongoDB, ExpressJS, ReactJS, and NodeJS. Famous among developers all over the world, the MERN stack enables app development under only the JS paradigm.

Among the JavaScript stacks, the MERN stack is the second most popular tech stack after the MEAN stack. Often, the MERN stack works as the direct replacement of the MEAN stack. MERN has all four technologies that are purely JS-based.

Truly, the MERN stack is a developer’s paradise. Especially, for anyone who digs JS and JSON. So, application development becomes extremely easy for such resources.

What is the MERN Stack?
What is the MERN Stack?

Which technologies constitute the MERN Stack?

MERN stack helps knit together some of the most amazing web apps and websites in the market. Enough praises already! Let’s get it rolling and introduce the four technologies that make up the MERN stack.

  1. MongoDB
  2. ExpressJS
  3. ReactJS
  4. NodeJS

Let’s get it rolling and briefly introduce these JS-centric technologies that are constituents of the MERN stack.

MongoDB

As a NoSQL database management system, MongoDB stores data as documents with key-value pairs similar to JSON objects. Users can create databases, schemas, and tables through MongoDB. There is also the Mongo shell with a JS interface through which users can query, update and delete records.

ExpressJS

Arguably, the most popular JavaScript library, ReactJS is used for building UIs based on UI components. ReactJS uses a virtual DOM for all tasks. Consequently, the development of user interfaces for mobile apps and SPAs turns out extremely easy through ReactJS.

ReactJS

The second constituent ExpressJS works as a backend web application framework for NodeJS. The Express framework is a great tool for writing backend code with great simplicity. Subsequently, it allows developers to work without creating multiple node modules with great code precision.

NodeJS

Lastly, NodeJS is a JS runtime environment that enables running JS code outside the browser. Thanks to NodeJS, you can run code directly on the server. NodeJS comes with Node Package Manager (NPM) that allows users to select from a wide range of node packages. Since NodeJS is built upon the Chrome JS Engine, the code executes much faster.

JavaScript Software Stacks
JavaScript Software Stacks

How does MERN stack work?

Now we get into the nitty-gritty to figure out the architecture of the MERN stack. Thanks to the MERN stack, you can construct a three-tier architecture i.e. front-end, back-end, and database. The architecture is built entirely through JavaScript and JSON.

ReactJS for the Frontend tier

The declarative JS library ReactJS enables the development of dynamic client-side applications in HTML. React is a great enabler for building complex user interfaces through extremely simple components. This way you can connect with data on your backend server and render it as HTML.

ReactJS is best known for creating data-driven interfaces with minimal code. It is a hassle-free development environment for making both single-page applications (SPAs) and complex web user interfaces. Therefore, internationally and in the USA, React has great developer community support.

ExpressJS and NodeJS for the Backend tier

The server-side JavaScript framework in the MERN stack, ExpressJS runs inside a Node.js server. Thus, it’s best to discuss the two together. Express is the “fast un-opinionated, and minimalistic web framework for NodeJS”.

It provides URL routing which matches an incoming URL with a server function that even handles HTTP requests and responses. Express.js functions drive applications, with XML HTTP requests (XHRs) or GET and POST requests from React. Because of them, you can use Node.js drivers through callbacks to access and update data in your MongoDB database.

Comparison time: Node versus Angular

MongoDB for the Database tier

A database is necessary for most data-centric applications. It is not about storing content like user profiles, comments, events, etc. The other aspect is retrieving data as per user commands.

This means you want something to work well with the existing suite of React, Express, and Node. That’s where MongoDB does not disappoint. It enables sending of JSON documents from React built front-end to the Express.js server.

Addressing the multiple uses of the MERN stack

A wide range of uses enables the MERN tech stack to develop different types of web-based and cloud-enabled products. This is why it is extremely popular, among other application stacks. It is an ideal choice for cloud-based projects especially when you require intensive JSON and dynamic web interfaces. Let’s talk about some interesting business use cases for the MERN stack.

Calendars and To-do Apps

With an emphasis on higher productivity, users want to achieve more; while consistently tracking time. MERN tech stack presents an ideal scenario for developing calendar and to-do apps, thanks to ReactJS. The data for these apps is easily stored, accessed, modified, and displayed using MongoDB.

Interactive Forums

This is a great idea for products where interactivity is a crucial element. Nowadays, social media platforms or websites are full of interactivity and once again MERN does not disappoint. MERN tech stack can allow users to share messages and freely communicate with each other.

Social Media Products

This use case is an extension of the previous point. MERN stack is ideal for building social media products. Whether they are ad posts or even a mini web app embedded in the social media page.

Top reasons to choose MERN Stack

Next, we round up the biggest reasons for selecting the MERN stack.

  • The biggest reason to choose MERN is the oneness brought about through JavaScript. This is the only programming language for the development of the entire JSON document structure.
  • MongoDB is a document database that was designed to store JSON data natively. It uses a binary version of JSON called BSON. Everything from MongoDB’s command line interface including the query language is built on JSON and JavaScript.
  • React.js is a front-end JavaScript framework for building interactive user interfaces in HTML and communicating with a remote server.
  • MongoDB has done a great job with NodeJS. Because of this, storing, manipulating, and representing JSON data is very easy at every tier within the application.
  • ExpressJS wraps HTTP requests and responses for easy mapping of URLs to server-side functions.
  • In case, you are developing a cloud-native application. Then, MongoDB Atlas is the database that auto-scales the cluster on the cloud through a few button clicks.

The best MERN Stack offers to developers

By now, we already know that the MERN stack is a great choice for application development. Now let’s analyze how beneficial it is for developers. So, here we go about this.

JavaScript Everywhere

The primary fact is that the MERN stack enables the creation of a 3-tier architecture using JavaScript and JSON only. Therefore, the front-end, back-end, and database all are under the JS umbrella. This is a great advantage for JavaScript developers who have a great command of the language.

Just think of the various capabilities and potential of such developers. They know the ins and outs as well as the nitty-gritty of the JavaScript framework. So, they can develop apps with great expertise using the MERN stack.

Highly Interactive UIs

Remember that ReactJS is just a library and not even a proper development framework. Nonetheless, React is such a vibrant source of a variety of UI components. So, you can create one of the most powerful front-end experiences.

Developers thoroughly thrive in the development of interactive UIs in HTML while communicating with the server. Correspondingly, the server-side function and mapping are extremely easy to tackle through the MERN stack. It is one of the leading technologies to create single-page applications (SPAs).

MongoDB Capabilities

Developers enjoy working on MongoDB which is a NoSQL database management system. MongoDB is built to store JSON data natively. As a developer, you work with NodeJS for manipulating, representing, and storing JSON data at every tier within the application.

Faster Debugging

Data flow is seamless, enabling faster development alongside easier debugging. Essentially, this enables developers to enjoy development. They don’t have to constantly frustrate during QA and testing.

Cloud-based Deployment

MongoDB Atlas is a cloud-centric variant of MongoDB. It offers auto-scaling MongoDB clusters on any cloud provider with just a few clicks. This is a great way to transform the application into a cloud-based application.

FAQs about MERN Stack

Here are the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about MERN Stack.

Is MERN a full-stack solution?

Yes, MERN is a full-stack technology. MERN Stack follows the traditional three-tier architectural pattern. It includes the front-end display tier (React.js), application tier (Express.js and Node.js), and database tier (MongoDB).

What is the future of the MERN stack?

In a nutshell, the future of the MERN stack is extremely promising. It contains elements that their makers immensely endorse. Frequent updates and releases of its constituent technologies will keep the MERN stack to continue to thrive.

Is the MERN stack better than the MEAN stack?

This can be a debate. At day-end, the comparison is very subtle because the MERN stack and MEAN stack are quite similar. Except for React and Angular (front-end tier).

React is more attuned toward the development of greater and stronger UI experiences. So any app that requires more power and the “X” factor in its front end should opt for MERN. Whereas, MEAN has Angular which is more stable to maintain abstraction in the code and manage project files.

React is a library after all while Angular is a framework. Therefore, in terms of stability, Angular is a more viable choice. As a result, the choice between the MERN stack and the MEAN stack depends on your use case.

Does MERN stack use SQL?

The database tier of the MERN stack contains MongoDB (a document-based NoSQL database). It stores data in JSON-life documents. Thus, the answer is no, the MERN stack does not use SQL.

What is the design pattern of MERN?

The combination of programming stacks such as MongoDB, Express, ReactJS, and NodeJs is known as the MERN stack design pattern.

Does MERN stack use REST API?

CRUD application in the MERN stack uses the REST API. For the needful, an API controller based on the URL is created. So yes, the MERN stack does use the REST API.

What are the best development stacks?

The top development stacks are MEAN, MERN, MEVN, Serverless, LAMP, PERN, and Ruby on Rails stack.