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cTrader is a forex trading platform by London-based company, cTrader Limited. The platform stands out because it has been custom designed for use with ECN brokers. Since its initial launch with FxPro, cTrader became the platform of choice for several other leading ECN brokers, including Liquid Markets, Pepperstone and Admiral Markets.
The cTrader platform is designed to fulfil two functions: firstly, execution of trades, and secondly, charting.
Visually, cTrader is extremely clean and attractive - it has an uncluttered and layout that is very easy on the eye. The designers have gone to great efforts to ensure that the entire platform is intuitive to use. I remember many years ago when I first started using MetaTrader – I found it much harder to learn compared to my learning experience now with cTrader. Once you’ve been using it for a few hours, MetaTrader by comparison feels quite clunky.
Take a look at the smoothness of the default layout:
There are other layouts available. Technical traders uninterested in news and fundamental analysis might choose to use the chart trading layout, shown below:
Let’s start off by looking at how cTrader executes trades.
The left side of the platform has a vertical column containing a list of currency pairs or other instruments with bid/ask quotes (it looks similar to MetaTrader’s Market Watch window). Click on any pair and the quote expands allowing you to place an immediate order. Here is the column with the GBPUSD pair expanded, showing “depth of market around the current market price”:
Either a single-click or a double-click (you can specify which) on the Buy or Sell quote, and you’ll submit an instant market order. What is really nice is that the details of the executed order then pop up in the top right corner of the screen:
Alternatively, you can have a safe setting so a standard entry order box pops up instead of an automatic execution.
Take-profit and stop-loss can be adjusted directly on the chart using drag and drop boxes that can be seen when you hover the mouse over the opened position on the chart, as well as when placing a new order through the place new order tab. You don't have to manually cancel anything - if you hit stop loss or take profit, the other is automatically cancelled. Obviously, care has to be taken: for example, you have to make sure each part of the order is the correct size – you don’t want to enter with 2 lots but set your stop-loss for 3 lots. Once you’ve entered a few trades though, thia process becomes easy.
All pending orders are shown visually on the chart so it’s easy to keep track of what orders are where with what size. There are also Positions, Orders and Transactions tabs to help you keep track of your trades.
Stop orders may be generated by right-clicking on the open chart of the instrument that you want to place the order for.
A function that makes order entry much easier is the Favorites column – you can add the pairs you trade most often to a separate Favorites column; in this column the quote box always remains expanded to give you quick access to your most traded pairs.
The charting tools are thorough and are easy to grasp.
cTrader has multi-chart, single-chart and free-chart modes. You can view multiple charts tiled neatly beside each other or have the chart area filled with just one chart and toggle between different charts.
You can also detach any chart to its own separate window outside of the platform. This is very neat especially because on Windows the detached chart creates its own tab on the Taskbar at the bottom.
Each chart’s colour settings can be changed from the traditional green and red bars on a black background and customised exactly how you want it. Whenever you open a new chart, the colour settings always begin with the default view; if you have a different preferred colour scheme, you have to change it for every new chart you open. When you shut down the platform though, it reopens exactly how you left it.
Below the 1-hour timeframe, most charting packages have the 1, 5 and 15 minute timeframes. This is the same in cTrader, but you also have available 45, 20, and 10 through to 1 minute and even tick time frame options. Above the 1-hour level, you have the usual 4-hour, daily, weekly and monthly views. But with cTrader, you also have several unusual higher timeframe options too.
The indicator list contains over 50 indicators, split into the categories of Trend, Oscillator, Volatility, and Volume. There is also a section entitled Other. The full complement of indicators to suit any trader's needs is there – from Moving Averages, MACD, Stochastics, Bollinger... the list goes on. If you’re a trader that relies on a very specific indicator or settings, it is best to download a demo cTrader to see if your needs are met.
I tested cTrader on their own proporietary demo account. For what its worth, I found their executions fair and quick. Of course, as this platform is designed to be used with ECN brokers, you can expect fair and genuine execution, which can work to your advantage provided you know how to work in the real market.
The platform is designed to be used with brokers that offer no-dealing desk, real market trading. This means that when you buy or sell an instrument, you are actually making a trade with a real counterparty. To work in this kind of real market more effectively, cTrader offers several special features that most traders are likely to be unfamiliar with, as well as some additional bells and whistles that put it well above MetaTrader as a trading platform:
- Algos – several sample algos (“cBots”) are available with the platform, and they can actually be edited in a programming suite connected to the platform. Of course, you can program (or have programmed for you) algos and attach them to the platform for execution.
- Trading Sessions – the platform always displays which financial centres are open in their normal market hours.
- Proxy connection settings allow for easy connectivity from any location, bypassing corporate or public firewalls.
- Level II Pricing / Depth of Market – when you are trading in the real market through an ECN or SMTP broker, you are able to see how much of the instrument is currently being offered for selling and buying at particular prices. This can be very valuable information for traders. This “depth of market” is exhibited very neatly in the lower section of the order ticket when you are placing a limit trade. The information may be represented in several formats, including a graphical weighting shown below, which is particularly useful and intuitive.
The only complaint I have is that you seemingly cannot enter a stop order from the orders tab on the left of the screen, but must instead right-click on the chart of the intstrument for which you want to enter the stop order. It is not much of an inconvenience though, unless you are mixing your order types and watching the depth of market.
As an active trader, I can genuinely say this is more pleasurable to use, and technically somewhat more versatile to use, than MetaTrader 4 or any other proprietary platform that I have ever traded with. It is easy to use and very easy on the eye. It has the smooth visuals of web-based platforms combined with the smooth running of a well-designed application. The company clearly invested a lot of time, thought and energy into making it a platform for a wide range of traders, and their efforts have been extremely successful. I'd highly recommend trying out the cTrader platform.