A Practical Guide to Planning a MEAN Stack Application

A Practical Guide to Planning a MEAN Stack Application is an excerpt from Manning’s Getting MEAN with Mongo, Express, Angular, and Node, Second Edition. Getting MEAN, Second Edition is completely revised and updated to cover Angular 2, Node 6 and the latest mainstream release of JavaScript ES2015 (ES6). This Second Edition will walk you through how to develop web applications using this updated MEAN stack.
Planning a Real Application
For the purposes of this article, let’s imagine that we’re building a working application on the MEAN stack called Loc8r. Loc8r will list nearby places with WiFi where people can go and get some work done. It will also display facilities, opening times, a rating, and a location map for each place.
Planning the MEAN Stack Application at a High Level
The first step is to think about what screens we’ll need in our application. We’ll focus on the separate page views and the user journeys. We can do this at a high level, not concerning ourselves with the details of what’s on each page. It’s a good idea to sketch out this stage on a piece of paper or a whiteboard, as it helps to visualize the application in its entirety. It also helps with organizing the screens into collections and flows, serving as a good reference point when we build it. As there’s no data attached to the pages or application logic behind them, it’s easy to add and remove parts, change what’s displayed and where, and even change how many pages we want. The chances are that we won’t get it right the first time; the key is to start and iterate and improve until we’re happy with the separate pages and overall user flow.
Planning the Screens
Let’s think about Loc8r. As stated our aim is as follows:

Loc8r will list nearby places with WiFi where people can go and get some work done. It displays facilities, opening times, a rating, and a location map for each place. Visitors can to submit ratings and reviews.

From this we can get an idea about some of the screens we’re going to need:

A screen that lists nearby places
A screen that shows details about an individual place
A screen for adding a review about a place

We’ll probably also want to tell visitors what Loc8r is for and why it exists, and we should add another screen to the list:

A screen for “about us” information

Dividing the Screens into Collections
Next, we want to take the list of screens and collate them where they logically belong together. For example, the first three in the list are all dealing with locations. The About page doesn’t belong anywhere and it can go in a miscellaneous Others collection. Sketching this out brings us something like figure 1.

Figure 1: Collate the separate screens for our application into logical collections.
Having a quick sketch like this is the first stage in planning, and we need to go through this stage before we can start thinking about architecture. This stage gives us a chance to look at the basic pages, and to also think about the flow. Figure 1, for example, shows a basic user journey in the Locations collection, going from the List page, to a Details page, and then onto the form to add a review.
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