Battle Of Web Trading Platforms

Tips

Aug 14

While desktop trading platforms cannot yet be completely replaced, web based trading platforms have been getting better and better. I wanted to take give a preview of a few that I have tried recently.

TradingView

Key Strengths:

  • Awesome looking charts
  • Great multi-market, multi-product layouts
  • Wide variety of supported markets
  • Growing multi broker support (Tradestation, AMP, Tradovate, and more)
  • Ease-of-use
  • Becoming more and more full featured with DOM, some replay support, limited backtesting,etc

Major Weaknesses:

  • DOM is very basic.
  • Lack of market profile and order flow charts
  • Replay support not up-to-par compared to Tradovate or NinjaTrader
  • Odd choice of scripting language
  • Weak backtesting
  • Expensive

Tradovate

Key Strengths:

  • Convenient Market Replay (Bests NinjaTrader in convenience)
  • Advanced charts with order flow
  • Great multi-chart layout for multi-market traders (NinjaTrader wake up and fix your windowing! )
  • Deep Discounted Commissions
  • Features ability to set daily loss limit (very useful for scalpers and discretionary traders)

Major Weaknesses:

  • Replay is way too slow!!! 4x is way too slow
  • Glaring lack of customization: lacks custom colors, lacks ability to set margin on charts. Major weaknesses pointed out by customers years ago but zero improvement.
  • Various bugs in charting and layout– charts not remembering settings, bizarre bars back settings, etc.

CQG Desktop (CQG’s Web Trader)

Key Strengths:

  • Basic charting and DOM
  • Very reliable/stable platform. I was able to trade through it even when major brokers were experienced problems or unable to be traded through.
  • Supported by AMP which has some of the cheapest commissions in industry
  • Good multi-market chart support

Major Weaknesses:

  • Very basic platform
  • DOM is solid but still has some basic functionality missing.
  • Bizarre button placements for DOM
  • DOM subpar compared to TT’s
  • Lots of confirmations and confusing configuration

TT’s Web Platform / FuturesPlus Tradestation

Key Strengths:

  • Good DOM for trading
  • Advanced support for futures spreads and options not found in other platforms
  • Ability to create advanced strategy orders for trading spreads or trade a an options spread right off the DOM
  • Nice feel to the widgets
  • Advanced order types for triggering/executing trades
  • Supports basic market profile view
  • Strong symbol handling

Major Weaknesses:

  • Charting is ugly
  • Trading with it possibly supports a patent pariah
  • Expectations should be a lot higher for a major player in the industry. Strategy building? replay?
  • Commissions through Tradestation much higher then industry average. Must be extremely careful trading some products like micro-gold as 1 tick won’t cover the commissions and fee.
  • For the Tradestation offering, no reduction in full margins available.
  • P&L and balance does not take into account commissions
  • Cannot show p&l on the MD Trader while in trade (big negative)
  • Cannot manage trades placed in Tradestation desktop through MD Trader

Tradestation’s Native Web Platform

This is a basic platform but supports chart trading, DOM, and options. I need explore more but could be very useful to get out of trades if TS Desktop quits working.

Summary

Overall, there are some really interesting platforms with great potential. On the other hand, it looks like platforms like Tradovate aren’t really being improved.

Please do note, this should not be taken as a definitive on these platforms but is rather meant to be a quick review. Platforms may have improved if you are reading this in the future.

Tradingview is probably the closest to offering a complete replacement. And, in select areas, the power in terms of ease-of-use, charting capability, and multi-product/multi-market analysis easily trounces legacy platforms like NinjaTrader and Tradestsation. Likewise, Tradovate’s market replay bests NinjaTrader in many respects but suffers from limited play back limits.

On the other hand, none of these platforms offer the backtesting capability of a real desktop package like Tradestation or NinjaTrader. Tradestation also has advanced scanning capability. More over, I am not a fan of the scripting language or capabilities of Tradovate. TT’s platform is interesting, and deserves closer inspection but without strategy automation it really speaks to a lack of innovation.

The major benefit for a web platform at this time is ability to place trades when desktop software has problems or for doing extensive chart analysis. There is certainly potential for something better such as advanced backtesting support, developing automated strategies and deployment in the cloud, and more– but that potential remains to be realized.

About the Author

The author is passionate about markets. He has developed top ranked futures strategies. His core focus is (1) applying machine learning and developing systematic strategies, and (2) solving the toughest problems of discretionary trading by applying quantitative tools, machine learning, and performance discipline. You can contact the author at curtis@beyondbacktesting.com.

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