If you want to trade the markets then there are two things that you need: a broker for access and a trading platform on which to conduct your analysis and place your trades.
In this blog I will give you an introduction to trading platforms and in particular the world’s most widely used trading platform: Metatrader 4, more commonly known as MT4.
What Is A Trading Platform?
A trading platform is a way to allow you to place trades in a market. This platform can be in the form of a program that runs on a computer, an app on your phone or web based through a browser.
If you have ever seen screenshots of trader’s charts you will see that trading platforms are more than just a portal to buy and sell assets. They also provide a range of other tools.
The key thing that traders look for in a trading platform are:
- A range of markets to trade
- The ability to view the price action for those markets in the form of charts
- The ability to analyse those markets with technical and fundamental indicators and tools
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What Is The Difference Between The Platform And The Broker
A common misconception is that it is the platform that gives access to markets or the data. This is not usually the case. The platform is what takes the data and puts it into the form of a chart or provides tools for analysis.
However the data itself and the markets that you have access to depends on the broker you choose. Your choice of broker is actually a very important element.
In fact, you can have the same trading platform with two different brokers and have a completely different experience.
Some of the key things you get from your choice of broker are:
- Number of available markets: some brokers are specialized in certain markets and some will offer a broader selection. You may want to trade Forex only or Indexes.
- Trading spreads: this can vary hugely depending on on your broker. This can depend on many factors and some brokers will have much better spreads on some markets than others.
- Trading costs and choices of currency: other costs will also vary between brokers such as commissions, overnight charges.
In addition to all that, you can even get rebates on your trading costs with some brokers! To find out more about that click below for our Broker Finder Service:
What Is The Best Trading Platform?
This is an impossible question to answer as there are so many different platforms out there with a huge range of functionality.
The view about what is the best platform will also depend on what a person is looking for. Is it charting, indicators, reliability, or something else?
As such we will not be comparing platforms here, we can however highlight the world’s most used trading platform.
What Is The World's Most Used Trading Platform?
The most used trading platform in the world is MetaTrader 4, most commonly known as MT4. MT4 was released by MetaQuotes Software in 2004 and despite a subsequent version being released (MT5) it remains the most used platform in the world.
Because of its popularity most brokers will offer MT4. This is one of the first great benefits of MT4 which is unlike a specific broker platform, if you move brokers or need access to different markets you can move and will still be able to use a familiar platform without losing any of your favorite analysis tools.
What Makes MT4 So Popular?
There are a lot of reasons that MT4 is so widely used. So many in fact that we wrote and article about out it:
In summary, MT4 is a very stable platform that is easy to use for beginners with loads of free education resources.
The platform itself requires very low resource use and as such can be cheap to implement on a VPS which is important for many traders who want to ensure that they can trade on a stable server and internet connection for live trading.
MT4’s success is in itself what leads to one of its key benefits such as the huge community of fellow traders and developers that keep adding functionality to the platform.
This ability to customise is one of the biggest features of MT4.
MQL4 Program Language
One of the more popular features of MT4 is that it is extremely customizable with plugins created in its open programming language – MQL4.
Although the ability to create custom plugins is not unique to MT4, the fact that is so popular means that MT4 has by far the widest range of plugins available as well as a large base of programmers in MQL4.
These plugins are called custom indicators. If there is any complaint that MT4 does not have an analysis tool you need, there will be a custom indicator for it.
MT4 Custom Indicators
MT4 comes with 30 of the most common technical indicators built into the platform. However, many traders will have their own trading strategies that they want to test or may be looking for a specific technical indicator.
The market for indicators is massive. This is an advantage in that you should be able to find the indicators you are looking for or get someone to build it for you fairly easily. The downside of this is that there is so much choice that finding quality indicators you can trust can be difficult.
Nothard Trading Custom Indicators
This is why we put together a toolkit of indicators that include a range of really useful tools for traders to help them in their strategy building and market analysis. Our free toolkit has a bunch of really useful tools for everyday use and you can access it here:
Our pro toolkit takes your trading to the next level with some additional tools for analysis and trading strategies such as initial balance trading.
Expert Advisors (EAs) / Trading Robots
Expert advisors are the other big feature of MT4. Like the indicators these are built with MQL4 but instead of providing signals or technical indicators on a chart, expert advisors have the ability to enter and exit live trades based on the rules programmed into them.
This is a huge help to many people who want to automate their strategies as you can program a huge range of different scenarios into an EA. This is why EAs are often called Trading Robots.
However, because they can manage live trading, using an EA is very risky and you should be very careful in using any EA that you don’t fully understand or wasn’t built specifically for you. Make sure you test any EA on a demo account first.
The Best Trading Platform?
So, is MT4 the best trading platform? Well, as already mentioned we can’t really say that any platform is the best, that will depend on your own preferences. However, you can’t beat MT4 for its availability and for beginners it is a great starting platform with all the tools you need.
MT4 In Practice
To get a good feel for how MT4 looks and works in practice, here are some screenshots showing some of the key features and elements.
Chart Look and Feel
In Built Indicators
Free MT4 Education:
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Read More About MT4 Platform
MT4 Shortcuts PDF
More Trading Basics
There is loads more to learn and we will uncover more terms in the rest of the Trading Basics blog series. Read our previous or next unit.
Disclaimer and Affiliate:
In this article we recommended some links to Admiral Markets which are affiliate links. This means we may receive a commission in some instances.
This material does not contain and should not be construed as containing investment advice, investment recommendations, an offer of or solicitation for any transactions in financial instruments. Trading financial instruments offered by Admiral Markets (CFDs, ETFs, stocks) carries a high level of risk which is not suitable for all investors due to their complex nature. Before making any investment decisions, you should seek advice from independent financial advisors to ensure you understand the risks involved. Read more at www.admiralmarkets.com.