MEAN vs MERN: which one to choose?

Today every single platform, either it is Youtube, Facebook or Yahoo, is using JavaScript concepts in order to make their applications more user friendly and (obviously) faster than ever before. And it’s a common truth that JavaScript has greatly evolved over the decades. Once known for just adding pop-up windows and flashing headers, now JS is used to implement application logic, front-end experiences, and access databases.

There are a lot of different stacks and stack combinations used by developers working with JS, but in this article we will take a look at these two (that are considered to be the most popular ones): MEAN and MERN.

Common features between MEAN Stack and MERN Stack

Common benefits MEAN and MERN stacks share are the ease of implementation and flexibility. Applications are built upon the Model-View layout. MongoDB is a popular and valuable database commonly used in both the stacks. Node.js allows developers to build advanced back-end apps through running of JavaScript on the Server side. And Express.js, on its turn, is used to manage HTTP request, provide basic routing and to produce an API (Application Programming Interface).

Both MEAN and MERN:

• Cover the full web development cycle from front end development (client side) to back end development (server side) using JavaScript.
• Support the MVC (Model View Controller) architecture to make the development process flow smoothly.
• Come with a pre-built extensive suite of testing tools.
• Open source in frameworks.
• Have great teams backing them and ample amounts of documentation, examples, &etc.

So this is a little bit about the common. But there are certain features distinguishing them from each other.

MEAN vs MERN: let’s compare

At the end of the day, both stacks are great options. And the choice between MEAN and MERN stacks just comes down to choosing between Angular and React, which are suitable for almost any application need.

Before moving a step ahead, check here the synopsis comparison of Angular and React:

And now let’s see more about React and Angular.

A little bit about Angular

Angular is a giant in itself that inculcates the complete open source TypeScript based framework and implementation details. Angular is most commonly used in SPA (Single Page Applications) which are known to provide seamless UX as it allows rendering the entire page without refreshing it.

It is completely different from AngularJS which is JavaScript based front end development framework. However, Angular is a complete rewrite from the same team that built AngularJS.

The Angular framework runs on all browser environments regardless of its platforms. So far Angular has established itself as a reliable framework as it includes off-the-rack tools and also has robust components which are evolved in Juxtapose. What is more, Angular comes with a Bi-directional data binding feature that, in fact, primary differs it from React.

A main drawback is that Angular does not consist of extensive, all-inclusive documentation or a clear manual, and learning of this framework can demand a lot of time.

Briefly about React.js:

On the other hand, we have React – a purely JavaScript based library product that can be integrated into your code easily. This library allows you to use HTML codes as it comes forward with JSX, and offers the ability to compound the components of the app in a single time file. Moreover, React has a prompt rendering feature that gives it a slight edge over the Angular JavaScript. It consists of various approaches to lessen the amount of DOM operation and thereby speeds up the updating process, making it more efficient. And, of course, should mention Virtual DOM which can help developers manage an extensive database.

Due to its good support for mobile applications, React.JS is the most opted-for JavaScript library for the Mobile App Development.

As for the disadvantages, a traditional MVC framework like Rail needs configuration and integrating React.js into it slows down the development time and process.

Ok, clear. But how should I choose between MEAN and MERN?

The selection of MEAN/MERN stack depends upon the development and functional requirement of the system to be developed.

If you have several developers and are going full-on enterprise product, you will go Angular. For example, an enterprise level project like LinkedIn preferred MEAN stack. The major reason behind this is to maintain the architecture. Although MERN stack makes UI rendering considerably simpler, it is just a library. It just provides means to make rendering easy. On the contrary, Angular provides a well-organized framework to support MVC architecture or rather MVW (Model-View-Whatever) architecture where the database and UI code is isolated with an intermediate layer. This helps in managing the code easily and making upgrading of code an easy task.

Thus, when it comes to adding features to the application, React involves additional configurations while Angular is well organized to make it a plug and play job. So when it comes to Enterprise-level architecture, React can be great at first, but a pain later down the road.

While it is difficult to say which companies use MEAN and which one uses the MERN stack in its entirety, here is some of the popular brands using either Angular or React:

• NASA, HBO, Nike and YouTube use Angular.
• Uber, Dropbox, Netflix, Instagram, PayPal, and Flipkart have chosen React.

Another thing to consider while choosing between MEAN and MERN stacks, it is the familiarity of the developer with either Angular or React.

Everyone should remember that React is indeed very different than Angular. If you aren’t already used to flux architecture and unidirectional data flow, then React can be difficult to pick up. It also uses JSX which takes some time getting used to if you’re coming from traditional html. Angular is a bit easier for developers to jump into because it follows the familiar MVC pattern.

To put it simple, if you like more traditional JavaScript and feel comfortable with flux architecture then React is your cup of tea. If you like more opinionated frameworks and a set organizational style Angular will be more your thing.

Taking into account the mobile application development, using the MEAN approach includes availing the strong capabilities of Ionic framework whereas implementation of MERN is best benefited by the use of React Native.

To make a sort of conclusion, can say that both MEAN and MERN are reliable stacks that result in light-weight JavaScript applications. And, to be honest, in the majority of cases choosing one is just a matter of preference as both MEAN and MERN have their small pros and cons over one another. But if you are still uncertain about what to use for your next app, have questions or want to add something feel free to leave your comments below 🙂

Thanks for reading!