352 has decided it’s time to get MEAN.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to be hurting kittens or not helping little old ladies cross the street anymore. Instead, we’re shifting our development stack to a new platform: the MEAN stack. For the non-tech types among us [Ed. note – I think he means Marketing], the MEAN stack includes MongoDB, Express.js, Angular.js and Node.js.

If you’re familiar with 352, you’ll know this is quite a technology turn for us, since we’ve been a .NET shop for more than a decade. So we didn’t make this decision lightly! Our commitment to MEAN comes after months of researching potential technologies. This is a big step for us, and we’re excited to share some of our thoughts behind this new technology direction.

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Why MEAN?

The simple answer is we see the industry moving in this direction, and we want to lead the way. There are many different stacks using similar technology emerging as the industry begins its move, but we feel the MEAN stack offers a reliable foundation with an established community. The use of JavaScript on the server has sparked this revolution and has been gaining steam ever since Node.js was released in 2009.

A quick survey of job listings over the last 2 years will show you the number of companies using JavaScript has grown exponentially.

The MEAN stack will allow our developers to use JavaScript for full stack development. Using a single language for development will increase our productivity and simplify our code. JavaScript is a beautiful development language that has traditionally been thought of as simply a scripting language. While JavaScript has its fair share of both good and bad parts, we feel comfortable leveraging the good parts to provide a powerful first-class development language.

Ok I see it’s an acronym, but what are these things?

MongoDB – it’s not your father’s database. For years we’ve been storing data in relational tables for everything. As we’ve entered into a world of vast amounts of unstructured data relational databases have been slow to solve our business problems.

MongoDB is a NoSQL datastore that integrates nicely with JavaScript and packs a powerful punch. NoSQL isn’t a silver bullet, so we’ll still use relational databases when the situation calls for one. But with that in mind, we believe MongoDB gives clients and developers an exceptional database experience while reducing cost along the way.

Client-side MVC frameworks like Angular.js and Backbone.js have been transforming the web for the last couple of years. Products like Google’s Gmail have led the way for Single Page Applications. Because of this internet users are increasingly expecting their web experience to perform as well as a desktop experience. Angular.js a framework for building Single Page Applications and is largely maintained by Google. With such a strong community and with Google at the wheel, we believe Angular.js is the best framework for delivering an exceptional user experience.

Node.js started as a simple open source project and has grown to be used within some of the tech industry’s largest companies (Microsoft, PayPal, and LinkedIn). There’s no doubt Node.js is the new hotness in the web development world, and we spent a lot of time vetting its claims. We’ve gotten pretty darn good at this whole building web software business, and it takes a lot more than industry buzz for us to change our preferred development platform.

Node.js provides an extremely fast server that integrates effortlessly with MongoDB. With the industry’s shift toward JavaScript, Node.js was a natural choice. While it represents a huge technological change, our .NET expertise isn’t going anywhere.

There are certain projects where .NET may solve the business problem more efficiently, so rest assured that 352 will always be able to provide outstanding service regardless of the technology we deploy!

It’s an exciting time for us internally and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. In January, we’ll be hosting a 352 Hackathon to launch some of our new MEAN stack platform. We’ll be live blogging and Tweeting throughout the weekend, so stay tuned!

 

Photo by: Vladimir Kramer

Larry Hipp

Larry Hipp is the director of software development for 352.

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