MetaTrader is the name of a range of downloadable online trading platforms developed by the MetaQuotes Software company. These offer a complete solution for traders, allowing them to analyse and transact on a range of Forex currency pairs, Futures and in some cases CFD’s.
In addition to its dealing functions it provides a user friendly interface which can be used to access its comprehensive charting facilities. A wide range of inbuilt trading tools are also provided that can be used to carry out a technical analysis of the markets.
Its unique proposition however lies with its inbuilt programming language, MQL4 which can be used to customise the platform to your exact requirements.
This helps to make it one of the most sophisticated dealing platforms available and is the reason why it is the most widely used platforms on the market today.
Why Use MetaTrader?
There are many reasons why traders choose to make use of this trading platform as their primary tool for trading on Forex.
In addition to offering a fully specified dealing platform which allows you to send and manage existing orders to your broker, the MetaTrader Client terminal also offers leading chart facilities. These allow you to track the markets while carrying out sophisticated analysis via the use of a range of the most popular trading indicators.
The basic installation as provided by most brokers, comes with over 50 built in technical trading indicators which can easily be added to charts to aid your analysis. Multiple charts can be opened within each terminal and markets can be tracked across a range of time-frames.
Traders also have the ability to customize their trading environment through the use of profiles and templates. These can be used to set up trading environments using specific chart types, trading indicators and chart time frames at the click of a button.
The client terminal also provides direct communication with your broker. This works two ways. Firstly it provides you with detailed market information and logs on your trading activity, directly into your terminal. This is useful to keep track of your market orders and also allows you to download and analyse trading performance.
In addition it also means that your broker can provide you with the latest market news and reports. Again these are sent from your broker directly to your terminal, further enhancing this one stop trading solution.
While often when we refer to MetaTrader we are referring to the client terminal, although there are in fact a range of applications under the ‘MetaTrader’ banner which you can take advantage of when trading.
The MT4 client terminal is the most popularly used component and is freely downloadable from the website of most MetaTrader Brokers. It is also possible to obtain a generic installation of the platform directly from the MetaQuotes website.
The API built into the platform allows brokers to offer customization’s to the terminal for their clients. Therefore you will often find that broker supplied versions will include additional features and functionality. Access to high quality news feeds being a typical example.
In addition to the client terminal it is also possible to trade while on the move. The MetaTrader 4 Mobile Terminal lets traders carry out technical analysis and make trading transactions from Smart Phones and PDAs.
While the number of brokers supporting this feature is growing rapidly, you will need to check if your MT4 broker offers this facility if you have a requirement for trading while on the move.
The final client side component is the MultiTerminal. This is an extended version of the client intended for money managers which allows for multiple simultaneous account management from within a single client. It is worth noting that at present this version of the platform does not support the use of Expert Advisors.
The unique programming tools available within the trading client allow for the creation of a number of customized enhancements for the platform. It is this level of flexibility that has helped the platform gain so much recognition.
There are three main categories -
While all of the supplied indicators will allow you to adjust their settings, you can also create new or combining existing indicators in order to form your own unique trading indicators
While indicators focus on analysing the markets, scripts can help you to simplify many of the frequently used trading functions. For example, a script could be created to close all your open trade orders with just one click.
Also commonly referred to as ‘Forex robots’, Expert Advisors allow you to automate both the analysis and trading process of a strategy. Specific algorithms programmed into each will form the basis of the strategy traded and the money management and risk settings used.
EAs allow fully automated trading, an area which has seen huge growth in recent years. Even people who have never traded on Forex before are flocking to try out automated trading. The best of these systems can be left to trade around the clock and generate you profits on autopilot.
The popularity of the MetaTrader platform means that there is already in existence a large base of these custom programs available to you. Many can be accessed for free although there is also a big commercial market for the best systems. The chances are that if there is an indicator that you require, someone, somewhere will have already created it.
If you have a specific requirement you can of course create your own indicator by using the inbuilt MQL programming language. This unique language is similar to the ‘C’ language commonly used in software development. To brush up on your skills a full set of technical resources are available on the MetaQuotes website. In addition many forums can prove a useful resource, offering dedicated sections where you can post and answer MQL4 related questions.
If you are not of the computer programming mindset you will easily be able to find a dedicated programmer to turn your trading system into an indicator for a modest fee.