Understanding The MEAN Stack

The MEAN stack is a free and open-source, user-friendly full-stack JavaScript framework for building dynamic websites and web applications. (What a mouthful!). MEAN stack makes use of MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, and Node.js. and is designed to supply developers with a quick and organized method to begin developing MEAN-based web applications with useful modules such as Mongoose and Passport, pre-bundled and configured.

Let’s peel back the MEAN acronym a bit to see what’s really going on:

MongoDB for the database: MongoDB is the leading cross-platform, document-oriented, NoSQL database that empowered businesses to be more agile and scalable. A number of major websites and services have adopted MongoDB as backend software, including: Craigslist, eBay, and Foursquare.

Express.js for the web framework: Express is a minimal, flexible node.js web application framework. Express provides a robust set of features for building single-page, multi-page, and hybrid applications.  

AngularJS for the frontend framework: AngularJS is an open-source framework (largely supported by Google) that allows you to extend the HTML vocabulary for your application—resulting in an environment that’s astonishingly readable, expressive, and quick to develop.

Node.js for the server platform: Node.js is a platform built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime to enable building quick scalable network applications

Why is MEAN Incredible?

MEAN has been described as the hipster younger cousin of LAMP—an acronym only coined a few years ago as MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and node.js were beginning to gain popularity. Now, the trendy JavaScript-centric technologies have joined forces and have begun to snatch up projects at a rate that has mad LAMP developers start to sweat.

What makes MEAN so great? The short answer is simplicity.
The medium answer is the bullet list below, and the long answer, well, you get the point . . .  

  • Use one, single language (JavaScript) for both server-side and client-side execution environments.
  • JSON is everywhere, and that’s a good thing.
  • Node.js is really fast and simplifies the server layer.
  • Has unrivaled support from industry leaders.
  • Open source so the savvy can tweak it to his or her preference.

Javascript Everywhere

Get this. Instead of learning an additional language to handle the backend of your application, with the MEAN stack, you can accomplish everything that LAMP can using only Javascript—crazy, right? Everything uses JavaScript, even the database. This allows front-end developers, backend developers, and even semi-technical designers to collaborate. Being able to read and understand your colleagues’ code is important. Now, you’re much more capable of developing increasingly agile software by using a single language across all layers.

JSON Everywhere

Every framework in the MEAN stack speaks JSON. Data flows among the layers without reformatting or rewriting. While experienced LAMP developers may have converting library workarounds, MEAN can eliminate some confusion and save time reformatting as the data passes through each layer.

Node.js’s Speed and Simplification

These days, shaving milliseconds off your app’s performance certainly affects your bottom line, and Node.js has been proven to be much faster than Apache is, while doing much more—not to mention that making changes is as simple as sprinkling in some JavaScript and letting Node.js do the rest. Say good-bye to shuffling through various config files all with different syntax.

Support from the Big Players

MongoDB is the leading NoSQL database provider. Amazon Web Services and Azure, the two biggest cloud providers, already support Node.js. Google (heard of it?) supports AngularJS, and NPM is the largest package ecosystem ever built. How’s that for support?

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