MEAN Stack for App Development: The Pros and Cons

MEAN Stack for App Development: The Pros and Cons

The MEAN stack for web app development is one of the most popular groups of programming technologies in 2018. It’s quickly gained recognition over the last five or so years.

Some developers feel like it will one day completely replace most if not all popular stacks like a LAMP, Ruby on Rails, WIMP, MERN, and others. This should come as no surprise, as Google has heavily influenced this developer protocol with their Angular and Node framework and server-side runtime environment.

MEAN stack
image source: Thinkwik / Medium

The MEAN stack comprises the following:

  • MongoDB: Schemaless NoSQL database that manages data in JSON that speeds data transfer between client and server.

  • ExpressJS: The lightweight framework used to build web apps in Node.

  • AngularJS: A new Java framework developed by Google, featuring two-way data binding which allows for blindingly quick development on the front end.

  • NodeJS: Server-side Java execution environment built on Google Chrome’s V8 Javascript runtime.

Most new developers and even many experienced professionals prefer a tested stack with software components that are proven to work well together, as opposed to testing and inevitably failing with unproven combinations in the field. This is a given, as clients want working apps today, not tomorrow. This is because once a good stack has been identified to run both the front and back end, devs can get to focusing on the beta testing stage much more quickly.

There are advantages of developing apps with MEAN stack. But it’s still limited in some respects, too. Keep reading to learn whether the stack is right for your app development needs.

App developer working using MEAN stack

Pros of MEAN stack programming:

Works faster

Everything in MEAN runs on JS – which means that commands are executed lighting-quick. The front and backend don’t need to be as heavily optimized to work together, as found in other stacks that use a different language for each respective purpose. Mongo is the best at managing queries and optimizing them on the fly.

Mean also separates code which makes maintenance and growth flawless when everything is working together well. Essentially, once you learn the ins and outs of MEAN (it takes awhile), you can deploy code more quickly, make changes on the fly, and end users will receive a much more efficient cloud-friendly app.

Easier to scale

Since all code is separated in MEAN, new code can be added and redundant code can be removed with much less downtime. Consider that Node was developed specifically to be a squeaky-clean runtime language, while PHP is a jumble of largely unrelated functions that often confuse developers, and which was never meant to operate as a runtime environment.

Add to that the seamless data storage and exchange of Mongo, the lightweight nature of Google’s Angular framework, and the ease of use building with Express, and you have (arguably) the most flawless full-stack JavaScript framework put together to date.

Cloud-friendly

MongoDB takes care of data storage and sharing in the MEAN stack environment. Automatic sharding and full cluster support work right out of the box with zero fiddling on the developer’s part.

In fact, MEAN was built with the cloud in mind, which is why is deploys so quickly and offers such amazing failover support and automatic replication ability.

Hyped app developer using MEAN stack

Cons of MEAN stack programming:

Too much hype

Falling prey to the hype behind MEAN is often cited as one of the biggest disadvantages of the stack. Devs clamor to use it because it’s trendy and popular, forgetting it’s still a new technology with much less support than Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

Truth is that while MEAN is faster to deploy, it still doesn’t offer the easy customization ability of LAMP or Ruby, mostly due to the lack of widespread support and documentation.

Lack of widespread support

All devs universally agree that MEAN works very well and is a blessing when it comes to ease of front and backend development of apps. However, Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby have been around for years and there are endless sources to find ways to tweak them to your application needs.

Security exploits

Even with Google offering the framework and runtime environment for MEAN, the stack is still considered less safe from a data security standpoint. You’ll absolutely find experienced devs that will disagree, but the fact that the oldest core software within the architecture is only ten years old at best, this means MEAN will be a prime target for hackers looking to take advantage of its relative youth.

Is MEAN right for you?

The MEAN stack does require a level of non-traditional training to make it work to its potential. This means additional education to become comfortable using it. Some technical schools have yet to gravitate away from Linux and PHP, in particular. However, MEAN, and “MEEN” which replaces AngularJS with Ember, are vastly regarded as the future of app development for cloud-based technologies.

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