When it comes to comparing trading platforms is it a case of comparing apples with apples or apples with oranges? We’re taking a look at two of the most prolific electronic platforms for trading and seeing whether there is enough difference between the two to decide if one is superior to the other.
Given the immense popularity of MetaTrader 4 (MT4), one wonders why anyone would consider using another platform. It was released in 2005 by MetaQuotes Software, a year after Ninja Trader was launched. Of course, with everything going mobile, the MetaTrader developers brought out an online mobile trading platform in the form of MT5 for both the forex and the stock markets. The fact is that despite this popularity and the mobile version, Ninja Trader has been giving MetaTrader a run for its money.
The key point of difference is that forex enthusiasts appear to prefer MT4, while futures traders are more likely to rely on Ninja Trader. Then, of course, there is TradeStation, which is preferred by stock investors. But let’s not complicate things just yet.
What you, as a trader or investor, need to know is that each platform is good at handling a different type of market. Also, both platforms offer backtesting and automated trading. So, the choice should be based on what you intend to trade in.
Here are some of the key areas in which the two platforms differ:
One of the primary reasons one chooses a platform is its easy availability, and this is where MT4 beats Ninja Trader hands down. With the platform also available in its mobile version and a large percentage of brokerages relying on this platform, it becomes easier to access MT4. In fact, many brokers offer MetaTrader alongside their own proprietary platform or at least a “bridge” that creates an interface for the proprietary platform with MetaTrader.
On the other hand, Ninja Trader is offered by a relatively small number of brokerages, many of whom often require high volume trading. However, it is possible to download the free version, which offers some of the platform’s features, but not all.
Both MetaTrader and Ninja Trader offer automation of trading. The difference is that MT supports Expert Advisors, which are automated algorithms that are capable of analyzing predetermined parameters and executing trades on behalf of the trader. Given that MT is written in MQL4/5, it can be used to create very sophisticated and powerful trading programs.
Coming to Ninja Trader, what is the most impressive about this platform is its testing suite, which is considered superior in some ways to MetaTrader’s Strategy Tester. The former platform also allows traders to future and back test their trading scripts, even while operating a live account. Ninja Trader also supports simulated data feeds that can help in testing trend-following robots.
This is possibly the area where Ninja Trader is a clear winner. The order functionality of this platform allows the placement of instantaneous orders, with simultaneous cancellation at different prices. This can be of huge advantage for scalpers, especially given that the platform also gives the true market depth.
Being able to offer the same for forex brokers and traders still seems to be a distant dream.
The Ninja wins again here, with much higher charting customization and overall features, as compared to MT4/5. In fact, the platform seems to be designed specifically for customization, giving users the freedom to choose the depth of historical data they need or the level of charting indicators they desire.
While Ninja Trader is usually viewed as a superior platform to MetaTrader, the fact is the MT4/5 are completely free of cost and therefore more easily accessible. In addition, Ninja Trader might seem a little daunting for the beginner, given its features and functionality. And despite Ninja Trader also being the Ninja of charting and customization, what is offered by MT4 is more than adequate for the average trader. So, the platform you choose really depends on what you need from one – do you need an apple or an orange?
If you liked this educational article please consult our Risk Disclosure Notice before starting to trade. Trading leveraged products involves a high level of risk. You may lose more than your invested capital.