How does Metatrader 4 (MT4) Programming Work?

For all you trading geeks that like to program your own strategies, MT4 is your platform of dreams. The electronic trading platform, MetaTrader 4, is based on MetaQuotes Language 4 (MQL4), which gives you the power to program trading strategies. If you want to gain better control over your trading, it is useful to become familiar with the program, especially the MT4 Client Terminal, which is part of the online trading platform and is connected to a dealing center. The dealing center, in turn, is connected with other participants in the markets, including financial institutions.

The client terminal is what provides you with information, based on a set of parameters, including the state of the markets and even the relationship between the trader and the dealing center. So, what you get from this terminal is information regarding current prices, limits on minimum and maximum order size, stop orders, automated trading and much more. The information is consistently updated to provide you with a good picture of the current market situation.

Client Terminal Tools

  • The client terminal offers built-in and programming tools.
    Built-in Tools: These help in conducting technical analysis and executing manual trades. You gain access to various technical indicators, such as support & resistance lines, Fibonacci levels, trend channels and much more. The order management toolbar, on the other hand, gives you control over manual trade management. You also have the option of automating management for stop order positions.
  • Programming Tools: Both trade management and technical analysis on MT4 are implemented with the use of programming tools. MQL4 allows for the creation of programs via three types of applications – a custom indicator, an expert advisor and a script. The good news is that different types of programs can be used simultaneously, and they can even exchange data. In fact, manual management tools and applications can be used simultaneously, complementing one another.

The Basics of MetaTrader Programming

To be able to program MT4 according to your needs, you first need to understand some basic terms and concepts, such as price change or tick, as well as learn to comment in programs and control algorithms. Of course, the most important factor while trading is the tick or price change, which is what the basic mechanisms of the language, MQL4, runs on. Some of the other concepts that you should be familiar with include:

  • Program Types: Expert advisors, indicators and scripts are the various types of programs on MQL4, which take care of the entire gamut of trading in the financial markets. This is why you should familiarize yourself with the workings of these three programs, which will then help you make the most of MT4 for trading.
  • Data Types: Each program language uses a set of data types. While programming MetaTrader for your needs, you will need to understand and then choose the data types most relevant for your trading needs. Choosing the wrong data type could have negative consequences, not just in terms of slowing the program down but implementing incorrect actions.
  • Constants & Variables: While both are programming code objects, constants, as the name suggests, are items that remain the same, being set once for everything. On the other hand, a variable’s content can change. Any program requires both unchangeable code objects as well as those that can be modified.
  • Operations & Expressions: Essentially, these terms are used in the same way as they are in simple arithmetic. For instance, if we take f = x + y, we know that f, x and y are variables, while “=” and “+” are operational signs and x and y are expressions. The reason you need to know the features or expressions of certain operations is to ensure that you do not end up making subtle errors.
  • Functions: The robustness of any program comes from the ability to create and store different code fragments that delineate the rules of processing data to solve a problem or to complete a task. So, a function is a part of MQL4 that describes how data will be converted. However, to use functions, you need to first determine the function parameters. You can also create custom functions.
  • Operators: There are two types of operators – simple and compound, based on whether an action can be executed through a single operator (simple) or requires a group of operators (compound). All programs need operators. An operator is basically a phrase within an algorithmic language.

By knowing the basic concepts, you can be a step closer to effectively programming MT4 for your trading needs. On the other hand, if you need a bigger geek, you could seek professional help and guidance for programming, so that you can rest assured that your needs will get taken care of by an experienced and qualified professional.

Disclaimer
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.

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