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What is MEAN stack development? Is it the same as full-stack development? What are the core technologies of the MEAN stack? What is the salary of a MEAN stack developer? In the article, you’ll find explicit answers to these questions. We’ve looked into the advantages and disadvantages of the MEAN stack. So, keep reading to find out whether it’s worth implementing this approach for your project.

The IT world changes fast, and it’s crucial for developers to stay up to date with the technologies they choose for the projects. That’s why there is such a concept as a technology stack. It is a set of languages and tools combined to deliver the best development results and high application performance.

For each project, you need to build the client and the server sides and integrate a database. The main trait of a successful tech stack is that the technologies for each part interact with each other well. The thing is, some databases don’t support some languages. For example, if you write the app’s backend with C#, you cannot implement a PostgreSQL database.

There are numerous stack options that aim at different purposes and have various advantages and disadvantages. Today, we will talk about the MEAN stack, which is widely used for web development. We’ll discuss why it is now dominating the world of web development and why it is worth becoming a MEAN stack developer.

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WHAT IS MEAN STACK DEVELOPMENT

The title “MEAN” is formed with the first letters of each of four technologies lying in its basis.

MEAN stack development technologies

These frameworks and tools cover all development aspects – database, frontend, and backend. In the case of MEAN stack development, these technologies are:

  • MongoDB
  • Express.js
  • Angular
  • Node.js

Until recent years, the “A” letter of the MEAN abbreviation stood for Angular.js. However, at the very end of 2021, Google will stop the support of Angular.js and replace it with Angular 2.0+, which is based on TypeScript instead of JavaScript. So, traditionally, when someone mentioned the MEAN stack, they meant a set of technologies entirely based on JavaScript. Still, in this article, we’ll replace Angular.js with Angular and describe how it affects development.

Want to know more about Angular 2.0?

What to do after December 31st, when Google stops updating and supporting Angular.js? What to do with existing apps, and what are the alternatives? Curious to find out? 

Read about Angular.js end of support

What distinguishes this technology set is that it’s wholly based on JavaScript (apart from Angular based on TypeScript), which is incredibly beneficial for several reasons. First of all, JavaScript has been taking first place on the ratings of the most popular technologies for years. Almost 70% of professional developers choose this language over the others. Its main advantage is that due to the numerous frameworks, it allows using it on the front end as well as on the back end.

Such popularity of JavaScript means that if you’re looking for a MEAN stack developer for your project, there’s a strong possibility that the learning curve will be very smooth, so the programmers will be able to get to work quickly. We’ll look into MEAN stack benefits later in the article, and for now, let’s discuss the technologies used in it.

MongoDB

We’ll start with the database. In some sense, it’s the core part of any application because it stores all the necessary data used by the software. That’s why it’s worth paying particular attention to the characteristics of the used database system.

In the MEAN stack, M stands for MongoDB as the database solution. MongoDB is a NoSQL database. NoSQL databases store data differently compared to relational tables. NoSQL stands for “not only SQL,” and it is a more flexible approach. They allow using graphs, key-value relationships, wide-column, or document type, while SQL databases deal only with tables.

Some people think that NoSQL databases are unsuitable for large projects, but they can handle a very high load if adequately organized. Their most significant advantage is that you can amend changes on the go and add new features quickly as the application grows due to the data models.

Also, NoSQL databases, and especially, MongoDB can be much faster in comparison to their SQL competitors. The thing is, in SQL databases, all tables are interconnected, and queries for a single object require joins from all connected tables. Whereas in NoSQL databases, data is stored in a form optimized for queries so that you receive results faster.

Another significant benefit of MongoDB as a NoSQL database is that it maps its data structures the same way as in particular programming languages. So, it saves lots of coding time and decreases the frequency of bugs’ occurrence.

SQL vs. NoSQL

MongoDB is a cross-platform database system built in C++. It stores data in key-value pairs. It is document-based, meaning that fields may vary from document to document. A good analogy of a document in MongoDB would be an object in the OOP approach. MongoDB doesn’t require updating the whole table when you add a new value, and it leads to noticeable time savings and easy data storage for large projects. It’s worth highlighting that JavaScript is all you need to know to handle MongoDB.

MongoDB has numerous upsides, especially regarding large projects and high loads, but we should say that it is not a great option in terms of data integrity because compared to RDBMS, in MongoDB, it is not a requirement.

When we’ve figured out essential information about MongoDB, it’s time to move to the next technology in the MEAN stack – Express.js.

Express.js

Express.js is a reliable server web framework for Node.js. Developers use it for single, multi-page, and hybrid web applications and APIs. Its primary purpose is to handle HTTP requests, such as GET or DELETE. It’s possible to achieve with just Node.js, but in this case, you’ll need to write your own code for it. To avoid such time spendings, Node.js introduces a flexible Express.js framework. It is also built with JavaScript, and you don’t need to know other languages to use it.

Express.js advantages

The Pug engine lies at the heart of Express.js. It is the most widely used templating framework. It provides template support, which leads to dynamic HTML page rendering.

As for the pros and cons of Express.js, the first thing we would like to highlight is extremely fast Input/Output, which is highly important for server-side technology. It is asynchronous and uses an MVC (Model-View-Controller).

Let’s say a word about how this framework works. Primarily, it was used for creating RESTful APIs that allow receiving the request from the frontend, sending it to the backend, and returning the appropriate response. It describes the MEAN stack architecture shortly, but we’ll look into it in more detail later in the article.

As for some more obvious Express.js advantages, it has a wonderful open-source community where developers contribute and give feedback on the code. It can be beneficial for aspiring and professional developers. Also, it is the most supported Node.js framework. That’s why it’s constantly updated, and bugs are fixed immediately if there are any.

The event-driven callback nature is among the disadvantages of this part of the MEAN stack. It’s not harmful itself, but it can be very challenging for those programmers who are used to async/await. Instead of diving deep into the callback nature and figuring out how it works, they may write all code in callbacks, which makes the app almost impossible to maintain in the future.

Angular

Till December 31st, Angular.js existed as a reliable JavaScript framework created and maintained by Google. However, due to some problems in architecture, Google hasn’t updated it with new features approximately since 2018. It received only security updates and critical features. In 2016, the Angular team in Google decided to rewrite Angular.js into Angular almost completely without backward compatibility and provide further enhancements to Angular instead of Angular.js. The New Angular version is based on TypeScript. It is open-source as well as the other technologies of the MEAN stack. Its most potent characteristic is that it uses the MVC architecture. MVC stands for Model-View-Controller. It is a pattern that divides all application logic into three components. The main goal of MVC is to separate the input from data processing and output. The model handles the data logic. The view is responsible for how the user interacts with an app, and the controller regulates the interaction of both components with the user. In simpler words, the controller receives the information from the user, transfers it to the model, which processes it, and passes it to the view that displays it visually.

MVC model architecture

One of the most significant advantages of the MVC model is the increased development speed. With the MVC, developers can simultaneously work on different app parts. While one dev is working with the visual presentation, the other may work with the business logic and set up the controller. Another reason for faster development with the MVC is that when one part is modified, the others remain unchanged. It is crucial for web applications because the user interface tends to change frequently.

Angular fully supports all HTML syntax and uses it as the primary templating language. So, devs can express the components according to HTML rules. You may want to ask why it is not enough to use plain HTML then? Well, it’s a great declarative language, but compared to Angular, it has a very restricted set of opportunities. 

Angular has a lot of useful libraries and frameworks for different app types. Besides, it contains all the necessary features of an advanced client-side language: deep linking, data binding, testability story, reusable components, etc.

If we step away from the technical details a bit, we should mention the constant release of updates and excellent community support.

The reliability of this web framework is proved by the list of companies that use it:

  • Amazon
  • Nike
  • HBO
  • Google
  • Forbes

Now, when we’ve figured out the details about Angular, it’s time to move to the last component of the MEAN stack – Node.js.

Node.js

Some people call Node.js a framework, but in fact, it is a running environment meaning that its primary purpose is to execute JavaScript code from outside of the browser. It is used for building web servers and applications.

Node.js has completely changed the world of web development. Such popular front-end frameworks as Bootstrap, Angular, and others were released a long time ago, but the back-end development was always a more complicated task. However, with the launch of Node.js, it became possible to create server-side applications with JavaScript.

Node.js advantages

Node.js uses the event-driven non-blocking I/O model, making it a perfect candidate for applications that process vast amounts of data and perform numerous tasks simultaneously. Event-driven I/O works like this: while one task is being processed in the background, Node.js receives the next one and immediately starts working on it. Moreover, such an operation doesn’t require a significant amount of CPU.

Node.js has proven itself excellent for real-time web apps. It has high performance because it was initially designed for optimizing the scalability of apps and their capacity.

In addition, you may find NPM (Node.js package manager) very useful, especially if you’re working with a tremendous amount of code. It unites some parts of the code in modules so that Node.js can handle dependency conflicts quickly and effectively.

Since we’re talking about large amounts of data, we should mention the dashboarding in Node.js. HTTP requests handling are among its features, and HTTP requests are large files streams. Node.js uses GraphQL for visualizing data.

As you can see, Node.js allows developers to perform some tasks that are impossible with some other environments. It also uses the V8 engine considered the fastest one for JavaScript.

Well, now, when we’ve figured out the essential information about all parts of the MEAN stack, let’s proceed to the advantages and disadvantages of this set of technologies.

MEAN STACK DEVELOPMENT: PROS AND CONS

Like any concept, MEAN stack development has its pros and cons. We’re going to look into its strengths and weaknesses in terms of web development.

First off, let’s start with the JavaScript and TypeScript being the core languages of the whole stack. The popularity of these technologies is the most obvious advantage in this case. The huge number of developers already knowing them leads to a smooth learning curve. So, the chances that you’ll easily find a specialist who can quickly start working with the MEAN stack are very high.

Moreover, we should point out the compilation. TypeScript that lies at the core of Angular, needs to compile the code, unlike JavaScript. It means that the code should be translated to pure JavaScript before running it. The compilation usually takes just a few seconds. Though it may seem like a waste of time in terms of a large project, it saves hours and days that would otherwise be spent on testing and debugging. The thing is, when the code it’s compiled, numerous runtime errors appear. Consequently, if even the smallest bug isn’t found and fixed, it may lead to the application crashing. So, a few-second time for compilation is more of an advantage rather than a downside.

Though, to be fair, we should say that many practices are allowing us to avoid runtime errors. For example, one should not use uninitialized variables, check memory limits, check the bounds of the arrays, etc.

Want to know what’s best for your project: TypeScript vs. JavaScript?

In the article, you’ll find detailed information about each language, see its use cases, and discover the advantages and disadvantages of each.

TypeScript vs. JavaScript: which is better?

The MEAN stack development tends to be relatively quick because of the two technologies lying in its core: TypeScript and JavaScript. The first one has optional dynamic and static typing, but Express.js and Node.js, based on JavaScript, have only dynamic typing. The world of developers is divided into two camps. Some think that dynamic typing is more of a disadvantage than an upside because if there are no strictly defined guidelines, it leads to numerous bugs. However, it may save lots of time due to the simpler code.

We should mention the fact that MEAN is entirely open-source. It means that all components are free, and developers can access public repositories and libraries at any time.

Speaking of publicly accessible code, let’s talk a bit about the community. Though the technologies of the MEAN stack are relatively new, they got trusted and reliable. According to this, many developers have worked with them for a long time. So, if you have a challenging situation with the code, there’s a great chance that somebody has already encountered the problem that you’re having. So that it’s easy to find answers to your questions and, consequently, create an application without numerous errors.

Cost-effectiveness is also a considerable advantage in terms of MEAN stack development. From the business perspective, hiring one MEAN stack developer is much more beneficial than four specialists, each of whom will work on one application part only. Apart from budget savings, development time is also reduced because devs won’t have to spend it communicating with each other and establishing something.

Cloud solutions have gained more and more popularity in recent years for several reasons. First of all, accessibility from all devices is a great pro. Cloud apps are excellent for enterprises because it guarantees that all employees are working with the same app version at any moment. Considering this, we should highlight MongoDB as the significant upside. It is a NoSQL database program that is built for the cloud.

What are the advantages of cloud apps?

Curious to know more about cloud solutions? Why is it worth building cloud solutions? What technologies are used for it? How much does it cost, and how is the process organized?

Read about cloud application development

However, there is a disadvantage related to MongoDB. It is oriented toward small and medium-sized projects, but it might not be the best choice if we’re talking about enterprises.

As for the other cons of MEAN stack development, we should mention JavaScript again. Though it is the most popular programming language, it is sometimes a bit more flexible than it might be, and in particular cases, it may lead to angled code that is difficult to document.

The last significant downside is the poor isolation of the app’s business logic from the server operations.

MEAN stack development pros and cons

So, now we’ve considered all possible pros and cons of MEAN stack development, and you can decide whether it’s a good choice for your project or not. However, it’s worth remembering that the MEAN stack would be a perfect candidate when high development speed is the top priority.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FULL-STACK AND MEAN STACK DEVELOPMENT

Sometimes, we can hear that people mix up MEAN stack development and full-stack development concepts. However, they are not similar. MEAN stack developer is a full-stack developer, but vice-versa, it is not correct.
Let’s be clear with the definitions. Full-stack developers are specialists who build both the server-side and client-side of an application. For each app part, they can choose various technologies. You can see the most widely-used technologies in the table below.

Backend Frontend Database
Node.js Vue.js MongoDB
Python React MySQL
PHP ASP.NET SQLite
Java Angular PostgreSQL
.NET Ruby on Rails MSSQL

Another significant difference is that MEAN stack development aims at web applications, whereas a full-stack developer builds desktop, mobile, and web apps. As you can see, in the case of full-stack development, you can choose from a wide range of options. MEAN stack development, in turn, means that you should use a predefined set of technologies for client-side, server-side, and database.

So, to summarize, we can say that MEAN stack development is a framework for full-stack development.

MEAN STACK ARCHITECTURE

As we already know, the MEAN stack includes four technologies – Node.js, Express.js, Angular, and MongoDB. Each of them is responsible for particular processes. Let’s discuss it in more detail.

It will be easier to understand the functions of each part of the MEAN stack if we present it visually. So, let’s look at the scheme below.

MEAN stack development: architecture

For now, let’s proceed from point to point. Angular is the first thing a user communicates with. When the request is sent, it reaches Angular at once. So, this framework’s goal is to receive requests from users on the frontend, send them to Node.js, and when the cycle goes through all the other phases, Angular returns the response to the user.

So, Angular sends requests to Node.js to handle it later. When Node.js receives the request, it will parse it and send it to Express.js. Node.js is the central part of the MEAN stack. It is the core part that handles the requests between client and server.

The next component is Express.js. It implies the APIs, which are used for accessing the database. So, Express.js uses a particular API to call the database, depending on whether a user wants to store or fetch the data.

When MongoDB receives a request from Express.js, it handles it and returns the response.

Express.js returns it to Node.js, which handles it, and sends it to Angular. In the end, Angular displays the data fetched from the MongoDB database to the user.

MEAN STACK DEVELOPER SALARY

Now, when we’ve figured out what is MEAN stack, and how it works precisely, let’s see what job opportunities there are and what the MEAN stack developer salary is.

It’s rather difficult to name the exact salary of a particular specialist because it will vary significantly depending on the world region and one’s professional experience. However, let’s take the United States as the ground zero. If we consider the middle MEAN stack developer, we will have an average salary accounting for about $125K per year, according to Glassdoor. Of course, for a junior developer, the number will constitute about $75K yearly, and on the opposite, a senior developer can expect a $200K annual salary.

Undoubtedly, the United States is probably the most expensive world region in terms of development rates. Although the quality of the provided services is fully in line with the prices, sometimes the budget doesn’t allow for outsourcing to the US.

If you still want the highest quality but for a lower price, you may consider outsourcing to Europe. Numerous countries provide excellent development services. Among all, we would like to point out Ukraine, which is the leading outsourcing destination in Eastern Europe.

If we scroll through different ratings related to software development, we will find Ukraine in most of them. So, global recognition is the first noticeable advantage of Ukraine as an outsourcing destination.

The development community in Ukraine is also highly active. There are numerous large and small groups of developers that hold meetings, conferences, etc. Among the most popular events, there are Lviv IT Arena, and IForum.

Moreover, a great deal of attention is paid to technical education. Yearly, more than 20k students graduate from technical universities. Also, we should mention the modern approach in education that provides the possibility to learn the latest technologies and gain the knowledge of using them in real life.

For now, let’s focus more on the numbers, and see what salaries MEAN stack developers can expect in Ukraine. DOU held a survey that showed many interesting facts about the IT industry in Ukraine. One of the issues was the average experience of specialists, and we’ve got such statistics:

  • Less than 1 year – 13%
  • 1-2 years – 25%
  • 3-5 years – 29%
  • 6-10 years – 17%
  • 10+ years – 12%

As we can see, the greatest percentage of developers has from 3 to 5 years of experience. Let’s see, what monthly salaries they have depending on the working experience:

  • Junior MEAN stack developer – $600 
  • Middle developer – $3500
  • Senior MEAN stack web developer – $6000

We took the data from DOU. On this web resource, you can find much valuable information about the IT sphere in Ukraine. The numbers provided above are actual for the capital but they may be smaller in other towns. Also, the salaries will definitely vary from company to company, but you can see the average numbers.

MEAN stack developer salary

It’s obvious that it’s much more beneficial to outsource to Ukraine or other European countries if you want to save some budget but still receive the highest possible quality.

MEAN Stack Developer Skills

MEAN stack development implies a deep knowledge of JavaScript. Let’s see what other skills a person should have to be called a MEAN stack developer:

  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript. As we’re talking about web application development, a sound knowledge of these technologies is essential.
  • A MEAN stack developer is a full-stack developer, so he should be able to design software architecture, and deeply understand the programming paradigm in general.
  • Knowledge of DevOps tools (continuous integration, continuous delivery, deployment automation). This is not a necessary requirement for a MEAN stack developer, but if the team is working on a large project, sometimes these skills would be useful.
  • Deep understanding of database structure. As full-stack developers work with both backend and frontend, they should be able to design a database and set it up according to particular system requirements.
  • Knowledge of various SDLC models with a focus on Agile development. If the project is lengthy and complicated, Agile methodology is often the best option, because it provides higher flexibility compared to its competitors, and consequently, saves more time and budget.

Speaking of SDLC models, it’s essential to be good at them, because each team has its preferred SDLC approaches, and it can save many resources if a hired specialist understands them from the very beginning.

CONCLUSION

We’ll reiterate that the world of technologies changes quickly, and it’s essential to be up to date. For now, full-stack developers are a great solution in terms of the restricted budget and timeframes.

There are many technologies that full-stack developers work with, but over the course of time, IT specialists have come to the most optimal set of tools that allows delivering the best possible results. This set is called the MEAN stack, which consists of MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js.

It often happens that you lack people with some specific skills for a particular project. For such cases, there are such options as dedicated developers or a staff augmentation model. They imply that you don’t have to go through a complicated recruitment process to find a person with the knowledge you need. It may be especially undue if you won’t need the specialist when a certain project is over. In such a case, you may want to look for a programmer that will work for you on a temporary basis.

Besides, as we’ve already mentioned, hiring a MEAN stack developer may be much more beneficial than hiring four different software developers with knowledge in each technology of the MEAN stack.

Want to implement a MEAN stack development approach for your project?

In EXISTEK, we have numerous specialists with different skill sets. Among all, you can find those who are on a first-name basis with the core technologies of the MEAN stack. If you have any additional questions or want to discuss your project further, get in touch with our specialists.

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