Currency trading has grown leaps and bounds over the past decade, due in part to the convenience of very sophisticated software trading platforms that can analyze mountains of data in a flash, provide multiple screen views of various currency pairs, and handle all execution orders for opening, monitoring, and closing forex positions. Amazingly enough, one software product has risen to the top in popularity and stayed there, the one and only Metatrader4, or MT4, trading platform.

Other platforms can be found in the forex broker reviews

MT4 is so pervasive that by most estimates, nearly three out of every four currency traders utilizes it in some way. It is now so ubiquitous on a global basis (it can handle 26 languages or more) that every self-respecting forex broker has to offer it as a free-downloadable option or risk driving away a major portion of potential customers in the process. Metaquotes Software Corp. released the product in 2005 and is the company responsible for developing, maintaining, and enhancing the MT product line. It derives its revenue by licensing directly to the forex brokerage community. Brokers will typically allow for downloads free of charge, since MT4 has become the de facto market standard. There are client, server, and mobile versions in the market today.

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    Why is the MT4 platform so popular?

    When an industry grows quickly and in all manner of directions, as has been the case with the forex industry, software standards generally come under fire for not being flexible enough or not changing rapidly enough to satisfy the demands of its more sophisticated user base. In the case of MT4, just the opposite occurred. According to one industry source, “The client is a Microsoft Windows-based application that became popular mainly due to the ability for end users to write their own trading scripts and robots that could automate trading.”

    In other words, traders that were also competent as software programmers and wished to use automated trading routines (sometimes referred to as EAs, or Expert Advisors, in today’s forex parlance) soon found a welcoming home with the MT4 software. It came equipped with its own proprietary MQL4 programming language, allowing the professional sector of the market to design their own proprietary trading robots right from scratch. With a firm foothold in this sector, it was then off to the races, as individual and beginning traders also fell in love with the user-friendly aspects of the package.

    Why does the average trader favor the Metatrader4 product?

    You do not have to be a programming whiz kid to appreciate the beauty of the MT4 trading platform. It literally performs every function an average trader could want from soup to nuts. The screens are intuitive and easy to learn how to navigate. Chart types abound, and the ability to customize everything, from how the chart is presented to how an indicator is displayed, is easy to understand. Once the user develops a particular setting, or “template” as it is called by MT4, it can be easily saved and called up again with a simple click.

    Charting analytical tools are also a plus and user-friendly, from simple line settings to more complex Fibonacci line studies. Execution screens are also convenient and allow for “stop-loss” and “take-profit” orders to accompany your individual execution orders on the spot, or you can click any outstanding position and add modifications to it. Historical data is also maintained and can be reviewed at will to detect how prior trends played out or how a backtested strategy might have performed.

    Are there any disadvantages to the MT4 package?

    As you might expect, the only real complaints come from the highly skilled programmers among the trading community. The platform may not be quick enough for their tastes, but very few people have the know how to venture into the world of High Frequency Trading. Complaints also arise over the MQL4 programming language from the same subset of the market. The language still has a few “bugs” and quirks to work out, but, once again, a select few traders would ever become aware of these faults. The backtesting feature is also not nearly as robust as other more specialized products on the market, and the various timeframes offered are not customizable.

    The advantages of MT4, however, far outweigh these few drawbacks. The basics are covered — receiving real-time forex quotes, entering execution orders, managing open positions, and searching for new opportunities, all performed with a user-friendly interface and a host of tools, each documented with helpful explanatory materials. More professional features are also available, but there is an obvious limit to the level of complexity offered. There are large user groups that enhance the product offering at will. For example, Yahoo sports a 12,000 member developer group that submits open source software for Metatrader products.

    For the adventuresome trader that wishes to delve into the world of EAs for use on your own MT4 platform, be advised that not all of these software products work effectively. Without a structured approach to quality assurance, many bugs may be left to plague the user through no fault of the staff at Metaquotes Software Corp. Regardless of the marketing claims of the seller, be sure to perform a level of due diligence on the EA offering before buying or, at a minimum, make sure that you can get a prompt refund if the software does not perform up to expectations.

    Concluding Remarks

    Once you take the time to download and install MetaTrader 4 on your PC – which takes approximately 15 minutes – nearly the only thing left to do to make your first forex trade is to open and fund an online forex trading account. The MetaTrader 4 trading platform can also serve as an excellent forex educational tool, especially when combined with other Internet educational materials that discuss how the forex market works and how to develop profitable forex trading strategies. MT4 is popular for a host of reasons, and it will continue to be so.

    In 2010, the Metaquotes Software Corp. introduced Metatrader5, but the uptake from the brokerage community has been slow. The general feeling is that if MT4 is not broken, why attempt to fix it? There may still be no official version of MT4 for Mac OS users, but there do exist proprietary offerings that can fill this void. In the meantime, you cannot beat or dispute the success and popularity of Metatrader4. Most traders swear by it.