It goes without saying that the choice of the trading software is vital, as it will be one of the main factors that determines whether you are going to succeed or fail in the FX market. Even though Forex is a comparatively new market for retail traders, it is one of the most technologically advanced. Today we are going to take a look at two most common trading platforms and compare their pros and cons.
What is MetaTrader 4?
MetaQuotes, a company founded in 2000 quickly became a market leader in providing technologies for the retail FX sector with its flagship platform MetaTrader 4, that is often abbreviated to MT4.
This platform has been around for over a decade and with such a long history you can be sure about one thing at least - it is just rock solid when it comes to stability.
Moreover, the platform is updated regularly. Currently, this platform does not only come as a standalone platform for Windows, but recently MetaQuotes has released a web version of the platform.
With the web application for trading you can now fill Forex and CFD orders no matter what operating system your computer is running. It has also made the platform quite accessible as there is no need to install any software to start trading.
MetaTrader 4 Advantages
As we have already stated, the strongest side of this platform is its reliability. MT4 is simply a platform you can count on anytime. It is hard to imagine a platform functioning flawlessly right from the start and, in its early days, MetaTrader 4 could be considered as having faults. But after over 10 years of customer feedback and constant updates this platform is just as slick as you can imagine.
Another advantage of MetaTrader 4 is its enormous amount of available custom scripts for its software as it has the largest community of developers. With free and paid custom indicators and trading robots (known as Expert Advisors), traders can rely on automated trading.
Rich functionality and wide scope of features is where MT4 excels too. With this platform you can plot charts over nine different time frames, implement lots of graphical objects and use around 50 in-built indicators for your technical analysis.
Further to the items listed above, MT4 also contains a few elements that add significant extra value: you are able to access the most recent market updates via trader's journal, receive important notifications from your broker and much more.
Also, MT4 fully supports mobile trading with native applications for Android devices, iPhone and iPad.
MetaTrader 4 Weak Points
It quite hard to identify any disadvantages of this fabulous trading software, but to be objective we have to note that MT4 does not look like a modern trading application. Even though this platform has lots to offer, it may not be so appealing as the design looks quite outdated. Having said this, we still need to highlight that MetaQuotes looks into enhancements in UX and this can be seen at its recently released web trading application.
What is cTrader?
In general, for about 5 years there was no alternative third party trading platform available for retail traders. Even though some brokers were supplying their custom platforms, MT4 quickly became the most popular one. In 2010 a platform called cTrader appeared and it took a few years for the brokers to start adopting it. To be honest, cTrader still takes a fractional of the market share when compared to MetaTrader 4.
The main reason why cTrader is not so popular is rather simple. Where MT4 excels, cTrader fails. Even though the developers are working hard to make this platform better, it is simply not as stable as MT4.
This platform is available as a standalone application for Windows-based PCs, as a web trading app and it also features mobile trading applications. Hence, accessibility can be treated as an advantage of cTrader when compared to the rest of platforms, yet it does not really stack up when compared to MetaTrader 4.
Design is where cTrader actually dominates MT4 and most of other platforms available at FX brokers. The colour scheme of this platform is rather pleasant and it also explains the functionalities quite well, with the proper use of the icons and the options to customise the platform are here.
Next to this, there is an impressive amount of graphical objects and trading indicators. This is certainly helpful for traders looking to forecast prices with the use of technical analysis.
cTrader Weak Points
Algorithmic trading is something that is also available at cTrader, yet, when compared to MetaTrader 4, the amount of available robots and custom indicators is rather tiny. The reason for this is simple: it uses a different programming language. Although cTrader lets developers to build robots using C# - quite a common programing language - most of the developers in retail FX already got used to MQL4 (the programming language of MT4) and are unlikely to switch. As such, traders have the option to employ automated trading strategies, but the selection of trading robots is tiny.
In addition to this, cTrader can hardly be called a friendly platform for beginners. With all the features right in front of you, it is quite easy to get lost and actually focus on the platform more than on analysing the charts. This can have a negative impact on your trading.
The history of the platform is what really makes the difference. While there are tonnes of available educational materials, pre-made strategies and other useful tools for MT4, cTrader has just started to gain popularity and the availability of such materials is rather limited.
The Bottom Line
When choosing a trading platform there are a few options to consider. You may go for broker's custom coded software and be limited to the community of the traders that deal with the same brokerage. You can also select cTrader and enjoy a great design, while putting up with a fractional amount of trading robots and general guidelines. Finally, you can choose the world's most popular trading platform - MetaTrader 4 - and benefit from unparalleled stability, a significant amount of custom scripts and a truly global community of traders.