The current world of web development has a wealth of frameworks and technology stacks for developers to choose from. In today's Insight, we will be comparing two of the most popular stacks: the MERN stack and the Jamstack.
MERN is an acronym for the four technologies in the stack: MongoDB, ExpressJS, React, and NodeJS. MERN is a full-stack solution with a three-tier architecture that has been well-proven in building dynamic web applications. The three tiers are the front-end display tier for building user interfaces (React.js), an application tier (Express.js and Node.js), and a database tier (MongoDB). MERN stack applications use a single-page application (SPA) architecture, which provides a seamless user experience by dynamically updating content without requiring a full page refresh.
The Jamstack has also been aided by the rapidly expanding API economy.
“The ability to leverage domain experts who offer their products and service via APIs has allowed teams to build far more complex applications than if they were to take on the risk and burden of such capabilities themselves. Now we can outsource things like authentication and identity, payments, content management, data services, search, and much more.” -What is Jamstack?
Which is best for which application?
When deciding whether to use the MERN stack or the Jamstack, the most important consideration is the type of application you are building. If you are building a dynamic, data-driven application that requires real-time updates, such as a social media platform or an e-commerce site with complex product or service configurators, the MERN stack may be the better choice. Because the MERN stack relies on a server to handle dynamic content, it can more easily handle real-time updates and complex data queries.
On the other hand, if you are building a content-focused site, such as a blog or a news site, the Jamstack may be the better choice. Because the content is pre-rendered, the site loads faster and is more responsive, making it a better user experience. Additionally, because the front-end and back-end are decoupled, it is easier to scale the site as traffic grows, without sacrificing performance.
The advantages and disadvantages of each stack:
- Built on popular, well-established technologies: MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js.Provides flexibility in terms of scalability and deployment options.
- Offers a large community and abundant resources for learning and troubleshooting.
- The code written on MERN can be interchanged and reused on other websites or frameworks. This means developers can build specific modules or components just once and reuse them somewhere else. This lowers the costs involved in the development of a website or a project and it significantly decreases the time taken to develop a website.
- Frameworks like NEXT.js bring the page rendering advantages of Jamstack to MERN stack, without losing the MERN stack advantage in dynamic complex web applications.
- Can be complex to set up and configure, which requires experienced developers. Can be resource-intensive, especially when dealing with large data sets.
- Security can be a concern if not properly implemented (needs experienced developers).
- Requires knowledge of multiple technologies. MongoDB's flexible schema is great but it can allow you to create data inconsistencies.
- Can be resource-intensive and not suitable for smaller projects.
- Offers fast and scalable websites through pre-rendering and caching.
- Better SEO with pre-rendered pages.
- Easier to ensure security due to decoupling the front-end and back-end.
- Can be cost-effective, especially for smaller sites, as it often requires fewer resources to deploy and maintain.
- Provides a wide range of development options and tooling.
- The Jamstack is great for delivering static content quickly and efficiently, but it can be challenging to implement dynamic functionality, such as user authentication and real-time data updates. Developers may need to use third-party APIs or serverless functions to add these features, which can add complexity to the development process.
- Database limitations: Developers may need to use third-party services or APIs to manage their data, which can increase costs and complexity.
- Build time: Because the Jamstack relies on pre-built assets, there can be a longer build time for larger sites with a lot of content. This can be a challenge for sites that require frequent updates or real-time content delivery.
- May require more development time for large, complex projects.
- Jamstack’s reliance on APIs can be a pro or a con depending on the cost and quality of the 3rd party services your application will depend on and the complexity of porting all those services if you want to change platforms.
- Code reusability is more of a challenge then with MERN stack
The MERN stack and Jamstack provide developers with powerful and effective solutions to match the requirements of a wide range of application challenges. Which stack you should choose depends on the specific requirements and constraints of your project.