JAMstack vs MERN

15 September 2023

JAMstack vs MERN stack

Irelia Codeheart, Senior Developer

Understanding JAMstack and MERN: Fundamental Differences

An Introduction to JAMstack

JAMstack represents a modern web development architecture that leverages the power of JavaScript, APIs, and Markup. Being a JAM unleashes several advantages for developers and the end product itself. By eliminating the need for specific back-end technologies or a monolithic server-run web app, JAMstack allows for more freedom and flexibility in the development process.

Applications created with JAMstack are pre-rendered and don't require a server. Instead, they can be served over a Content Delivery Network (CDN), leading to speedier delivery and better performance. This dramatically reduces hosting cost, making it viable for smaller, showcase sites or blogs.

However, there are some downsides. JAMstack might not be the right choice for sites that require dynamic features or have heavy database needs, as it lacks built-in support for such functionalities. For more in-depth information about JAMstack, read this blog post first.

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An Introduction to MERN Stack

MERN Stack on the other hand, is a powerful, full-stack development framework consisting of MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js. It's particularly geared towards complex, large-scale web applications with heavy data processing needs.

One of MERN's primary strengths lies in its uniformity, as the entire codebase is written in JavaScript. This removes the cognitive load of switching contexts between different languages during development. MERN also provides flexibility and ease in terms of CRUD operations, thanks to Mongo's dynamic schema nature.

However, a major drawback is that it does not function well with relational databases, making it a less suitable choice for applications that heavily rely on them.

Comparison: Architecture, Development Process, and Performance

When comparing JAMstack and MERN, it becomes clear that they cater to different audience bases, depending on the requirements and scope of the project.

JAMstack focuses on pre-rendering static sites and serving them over a CDN, leading to fast performance, high security, and reduced costs. The development process in JAMstack is also generally easier, with fewer dependencies and lower complexity.

In contrast, the MERN stack is designed for more complex applications, requiring a back-end and handling dynamic data. Its JavaScript-based environment allows seamless front-end and back-end development, offering a streamlined development process. Although it may require more resources, it does provide the functionality needed for complex web applications.

Restrictions and Suitability of JAMstack and MERN Stack

While the JAMstack is ideal for fluid, fast-loading showcase sites and blogs, it falls short when it comes to dynamic or database-requiring features. Services like caisy, a headless CMS, can be integrated for added functionality, but the general reliance is still on APIs and third-party services.

On the other hand, MERN is suitable for complex applications, especially those that require extensive data processing. However, it’s not the go-to option for relational databases.

In a nutshell, the choice between JAMstack and MERN stack depends on the application’s requirement. Developers are advised to weigh in the strengths and weaknesses of both before opting for the right architecture.

Looking to stay up to date? Read our article on the top web development trends 2024.

Pros and Cons: A Deeper Dive into JAMstack and MERN

Benefits of using JAMstack

JAMstack, an architecture based on JavaScript, APIs, and markup, offers several advantages for developers. It's renowned for its high-speed performance, improved security, and less expensive hosting costs. The JAMstack model sidesteps the need for any specific technologies and can be delivered via a Content Delivery Network (CDN), optimizing for speed and performance.

JAMstack principles involve using JavaScript for dynamic programming, APIs for server-side processes or database actions, and building markup pre-deployment, which ensures higher site performance. Here's a brief look at some best practices when working with JAMstack:

  • Serve the entire site on a CDN for better reach and faster loading times.

  • Adopt atomic deploys to ensure that all pages are updated simultaneously.

  • Automate the build and deployment process to improve consistency and productivity.

  • Maintain your codebase on a Git repository for better version control and collaboration.

Start building with these JAMstack project ideas.

Drawbacks of using JAMstack

While JAMstack brings considerable benefits, it does come with some drawbacks, primarily when it comes to certain types of web applications. JAMstack might not be the best choice for server-side CMS applications, monolithic server-run web apps, or Single Page Applications (SPAs) that depend heavily on server-side rendering. Consider these limitations when choosing a technology stack for your project.

Advantages of MERN stack

The MERN stack combines MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js to create full-featured web applications. This stack is a top choice for applications dealing with significant data processing.

Here are some key advantages of using MERN:

  • MongoDB provides a flexible, scalable storage solution.

  • Express and Node.js simplify building and managing server-side functionality.

  • React enables developers to design dynamic user interfaces with ease.

Moreover, learning resources and community support are readily available for developers working with MERN, which is an invaluable asset.

Check our best MERN stack project ideas for inspiration.

Limitations of MERN stack

Despite its many strengths, the MERN stack is not a panacea and may not always be the right choice. It's not designed for relational databases, meaning it may not be ideal for projects that require complex data relationships.

Remember that the choice between JAMstack and MERN stack fundamentally depends on the nature of the application you're building. Understanding each stacks' strengths and limitations helps you make the right decision for your particular project.

Performance Analysis: MERN Stack vs JAMstack

Before any web development project, a significant consideration is the performance that your chosen tech stack will offer. Let's compare MERN and JAMstack under this lens.

How fast is JAMstack?

JAMstack's architecture excels in rendering speed, since it uses prebuilt markup and assets that are served directly from a CDN (Content Delivery Network). In layman's terms, it can quickly deliver your website to the user without the need to query a database or hit an app server. This makes JAMstack a great choice when you desire fast load times.

Additionally, by using the pre-rendered HTML, JAMstack is able to present the content to your users immediately, without waiting for server-side processing. This optimizes the user experience by providing fast, reliable websites.

How fast is MERN?

MERN Stack's performance really shines through when considering complex web apps and ones needing large data processing. In this area, MERN can provide the quick and reactive user experience that's expected from full-fledged, feature-rich applications.

However, it's worth noting that MERN isn't designed for use with relational databases. This might limit your performance in certain projects.

Scalability: Comparing JAMstack and MERN

Scalability, or how well an application can manage increased user demand, is a noteworthy aspect. Notably, JAMstack sites are eminently scalable due to their use of CDNs, able to meet increased demand by simply sending static files where they need to go.

On the other hand, the MERN Stack can be more dynamic due to its ability to handle large processing needs, reflecting in its readiness to tackle complex web applications. This makes it highly scalable as well, but in a different way.

Security aspects in JAMstack and MERN Stack

When it comes to security, JAMstack has an edge due to its static nature. Static websites are fundamentally secure since they don't rely on databases or servers, which are the common targets of strikes.

The MERN Stack is also fairly secure, with MongoDB offering a robust set of security features. However, it operates on a dynamic, server-side architecture, which inherently presents a larger attack surface than JAMstack.

Whilst evaluating stacks, it's necessary to look at your project requirements. Both JAMstack and MERN have their strengths, and their performance scales on their intended use cases. The MERN Stack is tailored for sophisticated web projects, while JAMstack is ideal for simple, quick-performing sites.

Practical Influences: Case Studies from JAMstack and MERN Stack

Case Study 1: A MERN Stack Project

Consider a complex web application development project where an eCommerce system was built using the MERN Stack. The application required dynamic database interactions, user authentication, and real-time updates. The MERN Stack, with MongoDB for data storage, Express and Node.js for setting up the server, and React for the front-end, managed these requirements smoothly. Code reusability and scalability were two key advantages witnessed during the project. This did balloon the hosting costs a little but it was a justified trade-off for the advanced functionalities offered by the MERN Stack.

Case Study 2: A JAMstack Project

Contrastingly, let's look at a portfolio website developed using the JAMstack with caisy as headless CMS. The project did not require dynamic features or database interactions, but it was essential that the site be cost-effective, fast, and secure. The JAMstack turned out to be a perfect choice here. The website rendered quicker due to prebuilt markup and assets served directly from a CDN. Without any active server pages or databases, the website was on the safer side from potential threats. Furthermore, when deploying via JAMstack, hosting charges were reduced, presenting an economical solution.

Gains and Challenges from Real-world Examples

These two projects show that both MERN and JAMstack have their place, depending on the project's needs. The MERN Stack is potent for complex apps requiring dynamic interactions, at the expense of higher hosting costs. However, the JAMstack provides fluid and secure development for simpler sites with economical hosting. While coding errors might be more easily glaring in the JAMstack due to its static nature, MERN is generally more forgiving due to its dynamic nature.

What can we Learn?

JAMstack and MERN stack have distinct use cases. The MERN Stack is advisable for intricate web apps requiring high functionality. JAMstack is targeted towards cost-effective, secure, and fast static websites. The best technology stack must be chosen based on the specific requirements and constraints of your project. Consulting with professionals in the field can aid in this decision-making.

Looking Ahead: Future Prospects of JAMstack and MERN Stack Technologies

As both JAMstack and MERN hold a stake in the current tech landscape and appear to possess a promising future. But, understanding their potential shortcomings and how market trends might steer their development is equally important.

What the Market Predicts for JAMstack

The rise of static sites, performance-centric designs and the finesse of serverless architecture has led to increased adoption of JAMstack. As a decoupled system with a strong commitment to performance, JAMstack has found favor among developers interested in optimizing websites. Furthermore, the increased interest in headless CMS should foster JAMstack's growth. As caisy with its remarkable speed and impressive features aligns perfectly with the JAMstack philosophy, we can predict an enriched future for JAMstack.

Potentials and Challenges of MERN Stack

MERN Stack brings together four powerful technologies to help developers build robust web applications. The benefits of using MERN include easy data flow, scalability, and active community support. But, just like any technology, MERN has its sets of challenges which include complex states management and high learning curves for beginners. Nonetheless, with continuous support from its active community, these challenges can be embraced and overcome making MERN a compelling choice for building advanced web applications.

How could technological advancements shape their futures?

As technological advancements continue to shape web development, both JAMstack and MERN will likely evolve. We can expect to see newer versions of these technologies with improved features, functionality, and performance. Given the inherent scalability and flexibility of both stacks, they are well-positioned to adopt new technologies, meeting the changing demands of the web development world.

The Next Big Thing: Is JAMstack or MERN the Future of Web Development?

While it's tricky to predict with absolute certainty if JAMstack or MERN will dominate the future of web development, the present trends suggest that both have promising prospects. Developers and businesses are increasingly considering both stacks to leverage their unique advantages. As tech evolves, it will be exciting to watch how JAMstack and MERN adapt, grow, and contribute to the future of web development.

In conclusion, JAMstack and MERN, while different, both offer exciting prospects for the future of web development. As developers and businesses alike continually seek out flexible, scalable, and efficient technologies to meet the ever-changing technology landscape, both JAMstack and MERN will continue to evolve and maintain their relevance. It's a dynamic environment and choosing the right stack is all about understanding your project requirements, your team’s expertise, and your long-term goals.

In this vibrant scenario, caisy, a unique headless CMS, can empower developers to build superior digital experiences with both JAMstack and MERN stacks. Offering high performance and user-friendly interface, caisy enables seamless content management. Moreover, with a powerful GraphQL API for streamlined frontend development and advanced features like multi-tenancy and Digital Asset Management, caisy aligns with the unique demands of developers and agencies, making it a compelling choice in this competitive landscape.

So, why not explore caisy and leverage its unique features to push boundaries in your development tasks?

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