MetaTrader 3 – the start of a trading platform evolution

MetaQuotes Software Corp. overview

MetaQuotes was established in November 2000 and with the inception of the company, FX Charts trading was released. With this release, the basis of what would become the MetaTrader platforms of today was formed.

MetaQuotes drew in a significant amount of customers with this release as the software was a revolutionary new product which could be used by Forex brokers and traders alike.

Looking back over the years that MetaQuotes has been developing software, there has always been a set standard pertaining to the interface of their trading platforms instead of revamping the entire platform.

In the ten years after MetaQuotes was established, the company made quite a name for itself through the developing of the MetaTrader platforms, with MetaTrader 4 becoming one of the most popular trading platforms globally.

MetaTrader and MetaTrader 3

MetaQuotes released its first MetaTrader trading platform in December 2000 with the platform providing higher functionality than that of FX Charts.

MetaTrader provided traders with a new client terminal which featured a built-in programming language to enable traders to develop and implement trading strategies via the platform.

MetaQuotes Language, or more commonly known as MQL, was the very beginning of providing traders with the ability to develop trading robots, which are now better known as Expert Advisors, or EAs.

In 2003, MetaQuotes developed and released MetaTrader 3 for desktop computers. MetaQuotes did not develop this based on previous versions, although there were key elements that remained such as the interface with its standard 4-chart window view.

The idea and purpose behind MetaTrader 3 were to improve the efficiency along with the functionality so that it could be a lot more than the previous version. Futures were added to the list of supported markets in which trade could occur.

The MQL programming language was revamped and upgraded to MQL II. Later during 2003, MetaQuotes made provision for its first mobile terminals namely MetaTrader 3 CE and MetaTrader Palm with the aim at Forex trading.

The terminals developed by MetaQuotes were not only well received by its clientele and target markets, which quickly expanded the company’s customer base, but MetaTrader gained a lot of popularity amongst brokers and traders in a short time, globally.

After the great success brought on by MetaTrader 3, MetaTrader 4 was soon in development and in June 2005, MetaQuotes announced that the new trading platform would be released in July 2005.

MetaTrader 4, the most popular trading platform in the world

MetaTrader 4, following the success and popularity of MetaTrader 3, was released in July 2005 as a Forex trading system that had to bought for use, but featured a free version of the client terminal on the MetaTrader website.

The purpose for which MetaTrader 4 was designed was to provide Forex and Futures markets with a brokerage service which not only included a client terminal that had to be installed on users’ computers but also other back office components.

These back-office components served the purpose of handling operations pertaining to trading on the broker’s side – thus serving as a middleman between the broker and the trader during trading activities.

While MetaTrader 3 had grown in popularity, there were a lot of improvements made such as the productivity, reliability, security, and the ability to resist any attempted internet attacks from malicious parties.

MetaTrader 4 was in development for more than a year and a half before it was released and during the development process developers worked alongside both brokers and banks from around the world in developing a comprehensive trading platform.

MetaTrader 4 was developed in such a way that it catered for both brokers and traders alike in every way conceivable and this is one of the factors that have made it so popular and successful.

MetaTrader 4 features the very same interface as its predecessors, with fundamental differences where innovations were implemented. This included mobile terminals along with an entirely new architecture which was distributed across the entire platform.

In addition to an array of new features and functions, the new platform provided traders with access to MQL4 IDE which is a unique trading strategy development environment.

MQL4 was the beginning of a revolution in the way that automated trading applications could be developed. Along with a new platform and new programming language, MetaTrader 4 was also released to mobile devices in October 2005.

Although MetaTrader 4’s release took the world by storm with its array of new features and functions, MetaQuotes was not quite finished. In 2006, MetaTrader 4 MultiTerminal was released as a new component of the MetaTrader 4 online trading platform.

The purpose behind this terminal is for traders to be able to manage multiple accounts simultaneously from MetaTrader 4. This feature is especially helpful to investor account managers along with traders who possess more than one trading account.

This addition was a great success and it allowed traders to conduct trading activities effectively using various and multiple accounts while maintaining exceptional usability.

Even when using the MetaTrader 4 MultiTerminal, the interface remained like that of MetaTrader 4’s client terminal, which was and remains a user-friendly interface that provides traders with familiarity regardless of upgrading from one version to the next.

With technology advancing and evolving faster, and already having provided traders with a brilliant desktop trading platform, MetaQuotes had to pave the way for mobile trading as smartphones emerged and the popularity thereof increased.

In 2007, MetaQuotes released the beta version of MetaTrader 4 SE (Smartphone Edition) with the following features:

  • The full set of trade orders
  • Symbol Charts
  • Market Watch
  • Trade History
  • News which can be viewed in real-time mode
  • Alerts
  • A mailing system

The full version of the mobile application would additionally also provide traders with access to technical indicators.

Although it brought trading to the palm of the trader’s hand, the mobile application was at first only available to smartphones operated by MS Windows Mobile 2003 Second edition, or a more updated version.

MetaTrader 4 SE was released in June 2007 and it mirrored a wide variety of features that the desktop versions had at the time and now, MetaTrader 4 is available for download and use on a variety of mobile devices with full integration of accounts across all versions.

MetaTrader 5, the next step in trading platform evolution

Early in 2010, MetaQuotes released MQL5.com with the purpose of catering for application developers and today, it is one of the most powerful communities in the world for trading robot, or EA, developers featuring an array of services which include, but is not limited to:

  • Social trading
  • Market of trading applications
  • Library containing free MQL programs
  • Access to Freelance Service
  • Blogs
  • Articles, and
  • All other necessary documentation

MetaTrader 5 was released in June 2010 and based on the success and popularity which MetaTrader 4 attained, traders and brokers alike were looking forward to a reliable trading platform built on the same principles and quality as MetaTrader 4, but better.

One of the most important features of MetaTrader 5 is that it allows for trading in financial instruments other than just Forex, it brought the opportunity for traders to be able to trade in stocks as well.

MetaTrader 5 also allows for technical and fundamental analysis, programming EAs and a comprehensive MQL5 development environment, amidst several other features in addition to what MetaTrader 4 had.

With the release of MetaTrader 5 in June, MetaQuotes released a MQL5 wizard in October the same year and it featured as a new component of the MetaTrader 5 terminal.

When used, the wizard has the ability to generate the code for an EA automatically which phased out the requirement to have some knowledge, skill and experience associated with programming languages which were a prerequisite for crating EAs.

Although the developing of EAs by using programming language is still available, the wizard made it easier for traders who are not able to program their own EAs.

Traders are merely required to set their parameters and select the necessary components while the wizard does the rest for them.

With the new trading platform released for desktops, the next step was to release it on mobile devices and MetaTrader 5 was first released on iOS in January 2011 while development for Android were in progress.

Mid-2011, Market and Freelance service were launched on MQL5.com and it provided the ideal meeting place for both traders who needed EAs or technical indicators and the MQL5 developers who could provide just that to traders.

In October 2011, MetaTrader 5 was released for download and use on Android mobile devices and during the same month, MetaQuotes launched its MQL5 Cloud Network service to provide even more computing capabilities to traders who needed resources.

MetaTrader 4 and 5 further developments in mobile trading

Even though MetaTrader 5 was already available on both iOS and Android devices, MetaQuotes further developed MetaTrader 4, which was still in high demand, for iOS devices in November 2011 with the official release occurring in February 2012.

During the same month, MetaTrader 5 was released for Android tablets followed by the release of MetaTrader 4 on Android in April 2012. A month later, technical indicators were introduced to the MetaTrader 4 Android versions.

Further development followed in the MetaTrader 4 mobile trading platform with iPhones having access to push notifications along with a choice between 11 languages in June followed by the same development for Android.

Even though MetaQuotes was mainly focussed on further developing and improving on MetaTrader 5 on all devices, MetaTrader 4 users still received dedication in efforts to enhance and improve their trading experience.

The purpose behind conceited efforts in improving both MetaTrader 4 and 5 on mobile devices was to provide traders with an integrated service between desktop and mobile by providing as much features of the desktop version on mobile.

To date both MetaTrader 4 and 5 mobile applications mirror their desktop versions accurately and uniquely with the exception that smartphones do not have access to either VPS or Trading Signals, but they can be accessed on both tablets and iPads.

The significant differences between MetaTrader 4 and 5

Although there have been various developments on both platforms to have them peak their functionality, capability and performance, there are still differences that set these two trading platforms apart and these differences cannot be bridged.

MetaTrader 5 was developed on the same principles as MetaTrader 5 but with the release of the platform and later development, these new developments cannot be applied to MetaTrader 4 as the idea is for the transition to using MetaTrader 5.

MetaQuotes still offers various services and support for users of MetaTrader 4, but there are things that are slowly being phased out to nudge the trading community to solely utilizing MetaTrader 5.

The move from MetaTrader 4 to MetaTrader 5 is especially apparent when considering that instead of providing new users access to MQL4, users who make use of MetaTrader 4 have to use MQL5.

MetaTrader 5 was developed and released with the purpose of providing users with even more than what MetaTrader 4 had to offer and with technological advances and development opportunities, those using MetaTrader 4 may have to get on board or be left behind.

Much like MetaTrader 4 replaced MetaTrader 3, the transitioning phase may be slow but with technological advances, traders may need to rely on the capabilities and potential that lies within MetaTrader 5 and possibly even, MetaTrader 6 when and should it emerge.

MetaTrader 4 and 5 have the following distinct, significant differences between them:

  • The number of markets that traders have access to – MetaTrader 4 only provides Forex while MetaTrader 5 incorporates more such as futures.
  • Number of timeframes – MetaTrader 4 only has 9, MetaTrader 5 has 21.
  • Number of indicators – MetaTrader has 30 indicators and 24 analytical objects while MetaTrader 5 has 38 technical indicators and 44 analytical objects along with unlimited number of charts.
  • MQL4 vs MQL5 – MQL4 is slowly being phased out and replaced by MQL5
  • Provision of an economic calendar – MetaTrader 4 users often have to resort to using Forex Factory Calendar while MetaTrader 5 has an economic calendar built-in
  • Lack of backward compatibility between the platforms and MQL4 and MQL5

Traders who would like to obtain additional information along with a side-by-side view of the comparison, can visit MetaTrader’s website here.

Conclusion and Writer’s Opinion

The MetaTrader trading platforms has a rich and extensive history that displays the numerous developments in addition to impressive progress into creating two of the best and most popular trading platforms available today.

MetaTrader 3 signifies humble beginnings and the basis on which MetaTrader 4 and 5 were built and it paved the way for MetaQuotes to develop trading platforms that were aligned with the needs of both traders and brokers alike.

Much like MetaTrader 4 was developed and improved from the basis of MetaTrader 3, Metatrader 5 was formed on the same principles with key elements, functions and features seeing significant improvement.

Software is updated with the purpose of improvement and offering clients with more and better technology to cater for their needs. MetaTrader 5 is currently dominating MetaTrader 4, despite its popularity, with the array of new functions and features.

One is left to wonder whether the same will happen to MetaTrader 5 if and when MetaTrader 6 emerges, and whether this may mean that MetaTrader 4 may become obsolete in due time.