The MERN Stack Tutorial — Building a Full Stack Application with MERN

The MERN Stack Tutorial — Building a Full Stack Application with MERN

This MERN Stack tutorial explains how to build a Full Stack Application with MERN (MongoDB, Express, React, Node.js). We will also implement Redux for state management and some other things like Reactstrap and React Transitions. Wel will also deploy to Heroku at the end.

This MERN Stack tutorial explains how to build a Full Stack Application with MERN (MongoDB, Express, React, Node.js). We will also implement Redux for state management and some other things like Reactstrap and React Transitions. Wel will also deploy to Heroku at the end.

Learn The MERN Stack [1] - Series Introduction Learn the MERN Stack [2] - Express API & MongoDB

In this video we will setup the initial backend of our MERN application using Express JS with Mongoose which is an ODM to interact with our MongoDB database.

Learn The MERN Stack [3] - Client Setup & Reactstrap

In this video we will implement React and make it so that we can run the back and frontend servers at the same time using a package called concurrently. We will also create our AppNavbar component using Reactstrap

Learn The MERN Stack [4] - ShoppingList Component & Transitions

In this video we will create our ShoppingList component and make it work with just local state with some dummy data. We are not yet dealing with Redux or with our backend. I just want to get the single component working, then we will move to Redux

Learn The MERN Stack [5] - Implementing Redux

In this video we will add Redux to our frontend app and move the state from our ShoppingList component to a store reducer. We will also create our getItems action and action types.

Learn The MERN Stack [6] - Finishing Redux

In this video we will get the React/Redux app working with hardcoded state in the Redux store. We will create the ItemModal component to ad an item. After this video we will be ready to connect to the backend routes and make this FULL STACK!

Learn The MERN Stack [7] - Connecting The Backend

In this video we will finally connect to our backend routes within the Redux actions using axios and we will send the data down through the reducer into our ShoppingList component. We will also handle the post and delete requests.

Learn The MERN Stack [8] - Prepare & Deploy

In this video we will prepare our application for deployment to Heroku. We will create a heroku post build script so that we do not have to manually run "npm run build" for React. It will happen on the server once we push to it.

Learn The Mern Stack [9] - Backend JWT Auth

In this part we will add user registration and login with JWT (JSON Web Tokens) in Node/Express

Learn The Mern Stack [10] - React & Redux Auth State

In this video we will add our auth reducer to handle storing authentication state including the JWT token and the user data.

Learn The Mern Stack [11] - React Registration

In this video we will create the React register modal component and implement the create user functionality as well as getting the JWT token from the API.

Learn The Mern Stack [12] - React Login & Access Control

In this final video we will add the authentication of existing users and limit access based on if a user is logged in or not.

React, NodeJS, Express & MongoDB - The MERN Stack Guide for Beginners

React, NodeJS, Express & MongoDB -  The MERN Stack Guide for Beginners

ReactJS and NodeJS, together with ExpressJS & MongoDB form the very popular MERN stack! In this video guide you Building fullstack applications (i.e. frontend + backend) with the MERN stack is very popular - in this course, you will learn it from scratch at the example of a complete project!

MERN stands for MongoDB, Express.js, React.js and Node.js - and combined, these four technologies allow you to build amazing web applications.

NodeJS API Development with Express MongoDB and Mongoose

NodeJS API Development with Express MongoDB and Mongoose

NodeJS API Development with Express MongoDB and Mongoose. MongoDB is a NoSQL document-oriented database. It’s popular in the Node.js community and a viable database solution for building real-world applications.

MongoDB is different from traditional, SQL databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL in that data is stored in binary JSON-like objects called BSON). This structure lends itself well to building Javascript applications that communicate with JSON. Additionally, MongoDB has flexible schema. This means there aren’t database migrations to worry about and data models can grow and change.

In this tutorial, we’re going to set up a Node.js server application, connect it to MongoDB and demonstrate how relationships work between MongoDB Collections. In the table below (provided by MongoDB) you’ll see how traditional aspects of SQL databases stack up against their MongoDB equivalents. You can find the whole source code for this tutorial in this GitHub repo.

In SQL databases, we get database relationships using joins. For example, if we had a SQL database with two tables, books and authors, we could get all the books that belong to an author like so:

b.title AS ‘Book Title’, AS ‘Author Name`, AS ‘Author ID’
FROM books b
JOIN authors ON b.author_id =
WHERE = 1234;

This will grab information from both tables and display the results in a single dataset for us. Frameworks like Ruby On Rails and Laravel have abstracted this functionality for developers, making it possible to write PHP or Ruby to grab related information.

In Ruby On Rails, using Active Record finding, an author and related posts could look like:

authorWithBooks = Author.find 1234, :include => [:books]

In Laravel, using Eloquent, we could do:

$authorWithBooks = Author::find(1234)->books();

These results would give us the author with id 1234 and all the books that they've written. On the books table, we'd store an author_id, setting up the relationship between authors and books in the SQL world. MongoDB doesn't use joins though, so how do we achieve this functionality?

There is a helper npm package for working with MongoDB called mongoose that we’re going to use for illustrative purposes in this tutorial. Mongoose is an ORM (stands for Object Relationship Mapper) that is a helper for MongoDB kind of like how ActiveRecord and Eloquent are helpers for working with relational data.

Create Database Models with Mongoosejs

The first thing to do is set up our models in Mongoose. These schemas are flexible but help us define what we want our data to look like.

For the author model, we define a model schema that can reference documents in another collection:

const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const authorModel = mongoose.Schema({
  name: { 
   type: String, 
   required: '{PATH} is required!'
  bio: {
   type: String
  website: {
   type: String
  books: [
    { type: mongoose.Schema.Types.ObjectId, ref: 'Book' }
}, {
  timestamps: true
module.exports = mongoose.model('Author', authorModel);

In the above model, we define that in the authors MongoDB collection authors have name, bio, website and an array of books. Each element in the books array will reference the book id on the books collection. We’ll define that below. The second argument, saying timestamps = true will include "updated at" and "created at" fields when we create author records.

The Books schema models what our book data will look like. The schema has a reference to find the id of an associated author. In this example, I’m saying that a book is written by only one author, though in the real world that’s not always the case! Here’s what a belongs-to relationship could look like using Mongoose.js:

const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const bookModel = mongoose.Schema({
  title: { 
    type: String, 
    required: '{PATH} is required!'
  subtitle: {
    type: String
  author: { 
    type: mongoose.Schema.Types.ObjectId, 
    ref: 'Author' 
}, {
  timestamps: true
module.exports = mongoose.model('Book', bookModel);

Instead of an array of authors, the book references one author id as the author of the book. We’re using timestamps again for the “updated at” and “created at fields”.

In the root models directory, I added an index to register the models:

module.exports = {
  'Author': require('./Author'),
  'Book': require('./Book'),
Register Routes to Return JSON From Express 4

Now that we have the authors and book models defined, it’s time to return and show the data via a JSON API. For that, I set up a controllers for Authors called AuthorsController and one for Books called BooksController. The controllers are responsible for handling the request after the router determines which route to use. Below, we'll define a method for rendering a JSON response of all authors and the JSON of one author based on an id.

The authors controller looks like this:

const { Author } = require('../models');
const AuthorsController = {
  async index(req, res){
    const authors = await Author
  async show(req, res){
    const author = await Author
module.exports = AuthorsController;

Here, I’m importing the author model, grabbing all of them and populating the query result with the related books. To use the async-await functionality with Express 4, I pulled in a package called express-async-errors and registered it in like so: require('express-async-errors');.

Following that Express 4 requires some server boilerplate setup:

app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({ extended: true }));
app.use(express.static(__dirname + '/public'));

In the **server/routes.js** file, I register API routes for showing all the authors with their books and individual author with their books:

const express = require('express'),
  path = require('path'),
  rootPath = path.normalize(__dirname + '/../'),
  router = express.Router(),
  { AuthorsController, 
    BooksController } = require('./controllers');
module.exports = function(app){
  router.get('/authors', AuthorsController.index);
  app.use('/api', router);

Now we have a working API that returns authors with the books that they’ve written. The only problem is that there are no authors or books stored in MongoDB yet! To fix that, we’ll need to set up code to seed the database with records. If you visit /api/authors now all you'll see is an empty array.

Seed Records Into MongoDB

We need to make sure that the Express 4 server connects properly to MongoDB. For that, we can connect via an URL and listen for successful connection events like so:

const mongoose = require('mongoose'),
  env = process.env.NODE_ENV = process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development',
  envConfig = require('../server/env')[env];
mongoose.Promise = require('bluebird');
mongoose.connect(envConfig.db, { useMongoClient: true, });
mongoose.connection.on('connected', function () {  
  console.log(`Database connection open to ${} ${}`);
mongoose.connection.on('error',function (err) {  
  console.log('Mongoose default connection error: ' + err);
mongoose.connection.on('disconnected', function () {  
  console.log('Mongoose default connection disconnected'); 

With the environment config file defined like so:

var path = require('path'),
  rootPath = path.normalize(__dirname + '/../../');
module.exports = {
  development: {
    rootPath: rootPath,
    db: 'mongodb://localhost/mongodb-relationships',
    port: process.env.PORT || 3000
  production: {
    rootPath: rootPath,
    db: process.env.MONGOLAB_URI || 'you can add a mongolab uri here ($ heroku config | grep MONGOLAB_URI)',
    port: process.env.PORT || 80

The seeder itself we’re going to run from the command line. It’s a bit verbose but goes through the process of creating and updating records in MongoDB with Mongoose.js.

const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const { Author, Book } = require('../server/models');
async function seedAuthors() {
  console.log('Seeding authors to ' + + '...');
  const authors = [
    { name: 'JK Rowling', bio: 'J.K. Rowling is the author of the much-loved series of seven Harry Potter novels, originally published between 1997 and 2007.' },
    { name: 'Tony Robbins', bio: 'Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist and the nation\'s #1 Life and Business Strategist.' },
for (author of authors) {
    var newAuthor = new Author(author);
const a = await Author.find();
  console.log('authors: ', a);
async function seedBooks() {
  console.log('Seeding books to ' + + '...');
const jkRowling = await Author.findOne({ name: 'JK Rowling' });
  const tonyRobbins = await Author.findOne({ name: 'Tony Robbins' });
let harryPotter = new Book({ title: 'Harry Potter', author: jkRowling._id });
  let awakenGiant = new Book({ title: 'Awaken the Giant Within', author: tonyRobbins._id });

This will create a new connection to the MongoDB database and then convert a normal array of JavaScript objects into data we can persistently access. The author will have an array of books with one book for each author in the array. To add more books, we can push to the books array and save the changes. Each book will have one author. MongoDB stores these relationships via the id. Using the populate method in our controller above, we'll be able to view the entire object.

After running the seeder, you should be able to see your records in MongoDB Compass, as shown below. Compass is a GUI for viewing, creating, deleting, querying and editing MongoDB data.

Test The API

Now, to view this data from MongoDB via the API, start the Node server with npm run start and visit localhost:3000/api/authors in the web browser.

The final data will look something like:

      "name":"JK Rowling",
      "bio":"J.K. Rowling is the author of the much-loved series of seven Harry Potter novels, originally published between 1997 and 2007.",
            "title":"Harry Potter",
      "name":"Tony Robbins",
      "bio":"Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist and the nation's #1 Life and Business Strategist.",
            "title":"Awaken the Giant Within",

Congratulations, you’ve built an API with Node.js, Express 4 and MongoDB!

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Creating Real-time Chat App with Nodejs, Express, Socket and MongoDB

Creating Real-time Chat App with Nodejs, Express, Socket and MongoDB

In this tutorial, we’ll be building a real-time chat application with NodeJS, Express,, and MongoDB.

How to Build a Real-time Chat App With NodeJS, Socket.IO, and MongoDB

In this post, we’ll be building a real-time chat application with NodeJS, Express,, and MongoDB.

Here is a screenshot of what we’ll build:


I’ll assume that you already have NodeJS and NPM installed. You can install it from the Node.js website if you don’t have it installed already.

A basic Knowledge of Javascript is required.

Let’s get started.

Create a directory for the application, open the directory with your favourite editor such as Visual Studio Code. You can use any other editor, I’ll be using VS code in this tutorial:

mkdir chatApplication && cd chatApplication && code .

Next, let’s initialize the directory as a Nodejs application.

npm init

You’ll be prompted to fill in some information — that’s okay. The information will be used to set up your package.json file.

Dependencies Installation

Let’s install our application’s dependencies.

We’ll be using the express web server to serve our static files and body-parserextract the entire body portion of an incoming request stream and exposes it to an API endpoint. So, let's install them. You'll see how they are used later in this tutorial.

npm install express body-parser --save

We added the — save flag so that it’ll be added as a dependency in our package.json file.


Please, don’t use express generator as I won’t cover how to configure _socket.io_ to work with express generator setup.

Next, install the mongoose node module. It is an ODM (Object Document Mapper) for MongoDB and it’ll make our job a lot easier.

Let’s install it alongside and bluebird. Socket.IO is a JavaScript library for real-time web applications. Bluebird is a fully-featured Promise library for JavaScript.

npm install mongoose bluebird --save

That’s it for the Nodejs backend module installation.

Our package.json file should look like this now.

Another way to install the above packages is to copy the package.json file above and paste it into your package.json file and run:

npm install

It’ll install all the required packages.

Let’s set up the client side.

To connect Socket.IO server to the client we add the Socket.IO client-side javascript library.

<script  src="/js/socket.js"></script>

That will be our HTML file for the frontend. You can grab the entire code for the frontend here to follow along. The best way to learn is to follow along.

You can download the client-side library here as well.

And here /js/chat.js is where we’ll have our custom client-side javascript code.

Setting up our express server:

Create an App.js. You can call it server.js if you like.
It’s my personal preference to call it App.js.

Inside the App.js file let’s create and configure the express server to work with


This is the basic configuration required to set up in the backend.

Socket.IO works by adding event listeners to an instance of http.Server
which is what we are doing here:

const socket = io(http);

Here is where we listen to new connection events:

socket.on(“connection”, (socket)=>{
console.log(“user connected”);

For example, if a new user visits localhost:500 the message “user connected” will be printed on the console.

socket.on() takes an event name and a callback as parameters.

And there is also a special disconnect event that gets fire each time a user closes the tab.

socket.on(“connection”, (socket)=>{
    console.log(“user connected”);
    socket.on("disconnect", ()=>{
Setting up our frontend code

Open up your js/chat.js file and type the following code:

(function() {
    var  socket  =  io();
    $("form").submit(function(e) {
        e.preventDefault(); // prevents page reloading
        socket.emit("chat message", $("#m").val());
    return  true;

This is a self-executing function it initializes on the client side and emits the message typed into the input box.

With this line of code, we create a global instance of the client on the frontend.

var  socket  =  io();

And inside the submit event handler, socket io is getting our chat from the text box and emitting it to the server.

$("form").submit(function(e) {
    e.preventDefault(); // prevents page reloading
    socket.emit("chat message", $("#m").val());
 return  true;

If you’ve gotten to this point, congratulations, you deserve some accolades.

Great, we have both our express and server set up to work well. In fact, we’ve been able to send messages to the server by emitting the message from our input box.

socket.emit("chat message", $("#m").val());

Now from the server-side let’s set up an event to listen to the “chat message” event and broadcast it to clients connected on port 500.


socket.on("chat message", function(msg) {

console.log("message: "  +  msg);

//broadcast message to everyone in port:5000 except yourself.

socket.broadcast.emit("received", { message: msg  });

This is the event handler that listens to the “chat message” event and the message received is in the parameter passed to the callback function.

socket.on("chat message", function(msg){

Inside this event, we can choose what we do with the message from the client — -insert it into the database, send it back to the client, etc.

In our case, we’ll be saving it into the database and also sending it to the client.

We’ll broadcast it. That means the server will send it to every other person connected to the server apart from the sender.

So, if Mr A sends the message to the server and the server broadcasts it, Mr B, C, D, etc will receive it but Mr A won’t.

We don’t want to receive a message we sent, do we?

That doesn’t mean we can’t receive a message we sent as well. If we remove the broadcast flag we’ll also remove the message.

Here is how to broadcast an event:


With that out of the way, we can take the message received and append it to our UI.

If you run your application. You should see something similar to this. Please, don’t laugh at my live chat.

Wawu! Congratulations once again. let’s add some database stuff and display our chats on the frontend.

Database Setup

Install MongoDB

Visit the MongoDB website to download it if you have not done so already.

And make sure your MongoDB server is running. They have an excellent documentation that details how to go about setting it up and to get it up and running. You can find the doc here.

Create Chat Schema

Create a file in the model’s directory called models/ChatSchema.js
Nothing complex, we are just going to have 3 fields in our schema --- a message field, a sender field and a timestamp.

The ChatSchema.js file should look like this:

Connection to the MongoDB database

Create a file and name it dbconnection.js. That's where our database connection will live.

const  mongoose  = require("mongoose");
mongoose.Promise  = require("bluebird");

const  url  =  "mongodb://localhost:27017/chat";
const  connect  =  mongoose.connect(url, { useNewUrlParser: true  });

module.exports  =  connect;
Insert messages into the database

Since we are going to insert the messages in the server-side we’ll be inserting the messages we receive from the frontend in the App.js file.

So, let’s update the App.js file.

//database connection

const  Chat  = require("./models/Chat");
const  connect  = require("./dbconnect");

We can now add the

//setup event listener
socket.on("connection", socket  =>  {
    console.log("user connected");
    socket.on("disconnect", function() {
    console.log("user disconnected");
    socket.on("chat message", function(msg) {
        console.log("message: "  +  msg);
        //broadcast message to everyone in port:5000 except yourself.
    socket.broadcast.emit("received", { message: msg  });
    //save chat to the database
    connect.then(db  =>  {
    console.log("connected correctly to the server");
    let  chatMessage  =  new Chat({ message: msg, sender: "Anonymous"});;

We are creating a new document and saving it into the Chat collection in the database.

let  chatMessage  =  new Chat({ message: msg, sender: "Anonymous"});;
Display messages on the frontend

We’ll, first of all, display our message history from the database and append all messages emitted by events.

To achieve this, we need to create an API that sends the data from the database to the client-side when we send a get request.

const  express  = require("express");
const  connectdb  = require("./../dbconnect");
const  Chats  = require("./../models/Chat");

const  router  =  express.Router();

router.route("/").get((req, res, next) =>  {
        res.setHeader("Content-Type", "application/json");
        res.statusCode  =  200;
        connectdb.then(db  =>  {
            Chats.find({}).then(chat  =>  {

module.exports  =  router;

In the above code, we query the database and fetch all the messages in the Chat collection.

We’ll import this into the server code App.js file and we'll also import the bodyparser middleware as well.

const bodyParser = require(“body-parser”);
const chatRouter = require(“./route/chatroute”);

//bodyparser middleware

app.use(“/chats”, chatRouter);

With this out of the way, we are set to access our API from the frontend and get all the messages in our Chat collection.

So, we got the messages using the fetch API and we appended the messages to the UI.

You’ll also notice that I used formatTimeAgo(data.createdAt)); that is a 1.31kb library I created to manage dates for small projects since moment.js sometimes is rather too big. formatTimeAgo() will display “few seconds ago”, etc. If you are interested, you can find more information here.

Everything seems good at this point, right?

However, since you are not receiving the messages sent to the server back to yourself, let’s grab our own message from our input box and display it on the UI.

(function() {
$(“form”).submit(function(e) {

let li = document.createElement(“li”);

e.preventDefault(); // prevents page reloading

socket.emit(“chat message”, $(“#message”).val());


let span = document.createElement(“span”);

messages.appendChild(span).append(“by “ + “Anonymous” + “: “ + “just now”);


return false;


And also if we receive messages from the event let’s also output it to the UI.


socket.on("received", data => {

let li = document.createElement("li");

let span = document.createElement("span");

var messages = document.getElementById("messages");


messages.appendChild(span).append("by " + "anonymous" + ": " + "just now");


Our application is complete now. Go ahead an test it.

Note that if we had our users logged in we wouldn’t have hardcoded the “anonymous” user as it’s in our code right now. We’ll get it from the server.

And also if you want to tell everyone that someone is typing you can also add this code in the frontend.

//isTyping event
messageInput.addEventListener(“keypress”, () => {
socket.emit(“typing”, { user: “Someone”, message: “is typing…” });

socket.on(“notifyTyping”, data => {
typing.innerText = data.user + “ “ + data.message;
console.log(data.user + data.message);

//stop typing
messageInput.addEventListener(“keyup”, () => {
socket.emit(“stopTyping”, “”);

socket.on(“notifyStopTyping”, () => {
typing.innerText = “”;});

What it does is that when a user is typing it emits an event to the server and the server broadcasts it to other clients. You listen to the event and update the UI with the message “Someone is typing…” You can add the person’s name if you wish.

Here is the server-side event listener and emitter:


You can improve this code, add authentication, add groups or make it a one to one chat, re-model the schema to accommodate all of that, etc.

I’ll be super excited to see the real-time applications you’ll build with socket.IO.

I hope this was helpful. The entire code is on Github. You can get it here.

Thank you for reading !