Node.js Tutorials: Understanding the MERN Stack

Learn Mern Stack San Francisco

As you start learning Node.js, you’ll find that it’s important to know some low-level coding to write applications with it, and that you have more flexibility using the platform with an array of other tools. This is why we offer Node.js tutorials to supplement your classes in San Francisco and help get you acquainted with the platform’s features and characteristics.

Additionally, the future potential of WebSockets in next-generation web browsers will completely eliminate any need for long polling, which makes Node.js increasingly important in web development and design. Working with the MERN stack is an important asset in your journey to proficiency in Node.js and overall web development.

Why Is the MERN Stack Significant?

Working in the MERN stack delivers powerful results simply and efficiently. Knowing your way around the stack is an important skill set since building and deploying solid MERN apps is likely to gain importance in the future.

Node.js was built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime to make it more conducive to building fast-operating network applications with easy scalability. The platform operates using a nonblocking, event-driven I/O model that is incredibly efficient.

Node.js’s efficiency and simplicity make it an ideal platform for real-time applications running across distributed devices, especially those with intense data requirements. But Node.js has far more potential in conjunction with the MERN stack.

In this Node.js tutorial, we will show you how Node.js is integrated into the MERN stack and its significance for building front end applications. This knowledge will help you as you continue your web development journey.

What Is a Stack?

Stacks are groupings of multiple technologies used to create a single web application. Each web application is built with a variety of databases, libraries and frameworks. In the MERN stack, the technology group is based around JavaScript and is intended to simplify and streamline the process of web development. All the technologies in the MERN stack make up an end-to-end framework that developers can use from start to finish on single applications.

What Is the MERN Stack?

The MERN is similar MEAN stack but with a key distinction: the MEAN stack uses Angular to build front end web applications, while the MERN stack uses React to create them. If you are already familiar with the MEAN stack, much of what you learned will apply here.

The MERN stack is comprised of four powerful web development technologies that, when used together, have far more efficient and effective results. MERN is simply an acronym for these four technologies when used in tandem. They are:

  • MongoDB: An open-source, document-based database.
  • Express: A minimalist web framework for Node.js known for its speed.
  • React: A front end JavaScript library for creating user interfaces.
  • Node.js: A JavaScript runtime that operates on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine and brings JavaScript to the server.

Understanding the Parts of the MERN Stack

MongoDB

MongoDB is a cross-platform document-based database known as a nonrelational document-orientated database, or NoSQL. Conventional relational databases use a schema design based on tables and columns, however, MongoDB has no such schema. 

Instead, MongoDB stores data in flexible documents using a query language based on JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). The size, number and content of document fields vary, so the data structure can be altered later on. MongoDB is easy to scale and quite flexible, making it popular among many web developers.

Express

Express is a back end framework for Node.js web applications. You can use Express to make writing server code much simpler, as opposed to the traditional alternative of manually writing full web server code on Node.js, since it lets you avoid having to repeat the same code like you would using the Node.js HTTP module. 

Express’s framework was designed to enable simple, easy construction of APIs and efficient web applications. It is loaded with plugin features and is renowned for its speed. Its minimalistic structure makes it simple for developers to pick up and start using right away.

React

React was created by one of Facebook’s software engineers and later made into an open-source library. It is maintained by Facebook alongside a dedicated group of individual and corporate developers and can be used to create views rendered in HTML. 

In React, views are declarative, meaning developers do not have to manage the effects of changes in data or the view’s state. (A view’s state is the object that determines the behavior of individual components.) Instead, React lets developers use a full-featured programming language to design conditional or repetitive DOM elements rather than relying on templates that automatically create repetitive DOM (Document Object Model) or HTML elements.

React lets the same code run on the browser and server simultaneously, which is what enables React to anchor the MERN stack and makes it essential to the operation.

Node.js

Node.js is a cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment that was originally created for Google Chrome and open-sourced in 2008. Node.js is built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine and is intended to allow developers to build scalable network applications and execute JavaScript code outside of browsers. Node.js works by using its own module system that is based on CommonJS, meaning it does not need an enclosing HTML page to put together more than one JavaScript file.

How the MERN Stack Benefits Web Developers

The MERN stack’s main advantage in web development is that each line of code is written in JavaScript, which is a nearly universal programming language since it is vital for both server-side and client-side code. By using a single programming language, the MERN stack eliminates the need for context switching and greatly simplifies the entire development process, giving web developers the tools to create efficient web applications with far less effort. Technology stacks that use multiple programming languages leave developers to figure out for themselves how to properly interface them, but by using a JavaScript stack like MERN, developers only need to know JavaScript and JSON. 

Node.js classes in San Francisco and other major tech hubs are a good way to build your skills and become proficient using every aspect of the MERN stack.

*Please note, these articles are for educational purposes and the topics covered may not be representative of the curriculum covered in our boot camp. Explore our curriculum to see what you’ll learn in our program.

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