Full Stack vs Mean Stack Developer: Know the Difference

In an earlier post we have dealt in detail with who a full-stack developer is and the necessary skills s/he needs to possess. Simply put, as a full-stack developer one needs to effectively handle both the front and back-end development of a website or an application. This involves learning a number of programming languages and tools. Who, then, is a MEAN stack and what is the difference between MEAN stack and full-stack?

MEAN Stack vs Full Stack

MEAN Stack is a popular full-stack, JavaScript-based framework for developing web applications. MEAN is actually an acronym for the four key technologies that make up the stack, namely MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and NodeJS. The primary functions of each of these technologies are as below:

  • Angular JS: Accepts requests and display results to the end-user

  • NodeJS: Handles client and server requests

  • Express JS: Makes the requisite requests to the database and fetches a response

  • MongoDB: Stores and retrieves data.

It’s important to reiterate that MEAN stack is a branch of full-stack. While full-stack development requires you to learn multiple programming languages and tools to handle the front and the back end, MEAN stack requires you to be familiar with a fixed set of frameworks. A MEAN stack developer, therefore, has thorough knowledge of JavaScript while full-stack developers have the requisite knowledge of a number of other languages as well. Let us look at some of the other differences between MEAN stack and full-stack development:

Front-End Development

Both full-stack as well as MEAN stack have the necessary features and technologies that help with robust front-end development. In fact, both use HTML, CSS and Javascript. The big advantage with AngularJS as a front-end framework in the MEAN stack is the fact that it lends itself to a simplified MVC architecture besides supporting two-way data binding. Additionally, it ensures that the website is scalable and responsive.

Back-End Development

When it comes to back-end development, full-stack developers may tend to have an upper hand. A MEAN stack developer has access to NodeJS for server-side programming. While it lends itself to asynchronous programming as well, it cannot offer some of the results such as those offered by other powerful server-side languages such as PHP and Python.


There is also a great deal of difference between the databases that the two use. While a MEAN stack necessarily uses MongoDB, a non-relational, open-source, NoSQL database, which is known for its scalability, full-stack developers have access to a wide variety of other SQL based and relational databases as well.

To sum up

While the MEAN stack vs full-stack debate may go on, the fact remains that the demand for both these areas of expertise is high. Many projects prefer a full-stack developer on account of his holistic knowledge and expertise. On the other hand, several projects benefit from the knowledge of MEAN stack as it is known to be:

  • Highly flexible

  • Enables quick and real-time changes

  • Offers time-saving on account of the technologies involved in it being open-source

  • Cost-effective

Importantly, both of these make a person a full-stack developer as you are equipped to handle the client and the server-side. Depending upon the nature of the project, companies thereby benefit from hiring either.

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