Several software categories could fit into this question, depending on if you are looking for a platform that connects to a broker market feedback, automated trading software, trade analysis software, standalone or web-accessible, or some other utility with a specific role such as the one that copies trading signals. Forex trading software that brings the market to your screen is also called a trading platform or a client. To other people trading software is an automated solution that trades autonomously, commonly known as trading robots. However, we are going to give you some insight into what software might be the best for you if you are starting with forex trading.
Firstly, you need to know that MetaTrader 4 and 5 from MetaQuotes is the most supported trading platform and probably the only one you will ever need. Metatrader platforms are at the top of the market share in their category. There is no need to tell you about the history of how this came to be, but more about why.
MetaTrader platforms pushed to the top for several reasons. Their products are easy to use and set up. Metatrader is supported by Microsoft operating systems, Apple OS and it is also developed for Android. Additionally, to completely leave no uncovered space, Metatrader is also available through the web browser. So if you do not have it installed, you only need an internet connection and trading account credentials. Metatrader platform is also free. When you have this combination of availability and no barriers to entry it is very easy to conquer the market. Although that software needs to cope with the traders’ needs and also be supported in various ways.
Metatrader developed great options for analysis such as their Strategy tester module, good customizability of charts, a good overview of the trades, markets, and easy orientation. The platform became popular and the network of supported broker grew to the point almost all brokers have this platform offered. The main advantage of the Metatreder platforms is their ability to have custom indicators and scripts. The MQL language is easy to learn and is a no brainer for established coders. MQL language paved the way to make so many indicators and utilities for the MetaTrader platforms traders can make specialized strategies and chart analysis not possible with any other software.
Modified MT4 or MT5 with these utilities can become unrecognizable from the default looks. Many traders have gathered together to create forums, coders enjoyed the demand to create customized indicators but also customized automated scripts. MetaTrader platforms allowed Expert Advisors or EAs to be plugged in like any other indicator or utility. Everything became big enough to form a completely new marketplace for these products, some are free while some are sold for a couple of thousand dollars. MetaTrader platforms became the mainstream and there is no sign anyone new will come in to replace all this.
The platform locked down and denied the competition with this huge support and network. Metatrader 5 is the newest iteration and it is not very well received. Mostly because it does not deliver a much better experience and the huge support is slow to adopt the MQL5 language. MQL4 made indicators and tools are not compatible with the MT5, they have to be rewritten. This problem created an adaptation gap to the point MetaQuotes stopped issuing new MT4 licenses to brokers to force the shift to the new MT5. MT4 is still the most used platform and most supported yet the MT5 is slowly taking over.
MT4 and MT5 are not that different, you will barely notice the difference, however, MT5 has better options and follows new developments in the technology, but nothing revolutionary. As a new trader, it is better to start with these platforms right away than to get accustomed to broker proprietary software.
Proprietary trading software is developed with ease of use as the primary goal. When you look at the MetaTrader platform the first impression is that you do not want to mess with its unattractive layout. There are a lot of details, numbers, lines and everything is crammed into a few windows. It will seem you will have to face a steep learning curve to trade with this platform while the proprietary platform is very easy. Brokers will want to get you into trading quickly, before you lose interest, as many do. That is why everything is hidden that seems too complex, sometimes even missing key trading information such as the spreads. Proprietary platforms partially serve as marketing more than as a functional trading platform. Furthermore, even they look better, they may not perform better.
Not all brokers offer their own platforms, and not all proprietary platforms are inferior to the Metatrader. Two such examples are with the OANDA and Forex.com brokers. OANDA has a very beginner-friendly platform with good utilities and presentations about the position sizes. If you are starting with a demo account and find Metatrader just too much, consider this proprietary platform for practice. You will get a feeling about proper money management as it has more calculation options. Forex.com also has a proprietary platform that has a lot of advanced features not found in Metatrader.
The analysis is more advanced, has more modules and news plugged in, and many more options. Additionally, the Forex.com platform has an incredible array of markets and assets. Simply, Forex. Com is a large broker brand and can afford to develop such platforms. On the other hand, know no proprietary platform allows custom made indicators and utility as the MetaTrader. If you really want to dive into forex charting and analysis tailored to your strategies, Metatrader will probably suffice even when you get advanced.
When we talk about other, web-accessible trading platforms, TradingView is unavoidable. This is a subscription, web-based portal that offers a great way to charting and advanced technical analysis. It is packed with tools, it is easy on the eyes, and has a good structure. Definitely more attractive than the Metatrader, however, it does not quite match the tools range Metatrader has with its vast community. TradingView also supports indicator making, has some other abilities Metatrader simply lacks but is not quite trading oriented. It is more an analysis platform than trading. In that sense, you can do many useful things such as making your own currency baskets, indexes, advanced chart comparisons, and so on. Most experienced traders use this platform as an additional analysis utility. If you are new to trading, try it as you learn the basics.
Other trading platforms are also good and in some aspects more advanced than the Metatrader. One such standalone platform is the Nninjatrader. The platform surpasses the analysis potential however it still cannot match Metatrader’s third-party add-ons availability. If you want to trade live with this platform, you will also have to purchase it.
Now, if you do not want to spend time learning forex trading, you have other investment options, options where you invest your capital into managed portfolios or use copy trading platforms. One such popular platform is ZuluTrade. Copy-trading became popular and is still booming for people who just want to copy what good traders are doing, so they can copy their performance too. Copy-trading also requires some research on how to recognize a good trader.
Typically, you will want to seek out long term consistency, steady growth, and noting extreme like triple-digit percentages in a single month. People get hooked on performance rates, neglecting the long term risk. Drawdown and trading frequency are also parameters you will need to pay attention to with this platform when copying others. Also, consider diversifying and follow different traders or strategies as this platform also supports aggregated subscriptions.