OPINION: The Rise of the Web-based Trading Desk


HTML-based trading desks are coming closer to reality as many of the largest sell-side broker dealer prepare to release trading systems that rely on the latest version of the Web-enabling markup language, HTML5.

Unlike earlier versions of the Web-coding standard, HTML5 permits real-time communication between a Web browser and remote servers. Data updates no longer need to be refreshed by reloading a Web page manually

The open standard also aids developers create rapid iterations of their systems, which can lead to a short development cycle.

However, this, like most technology, comes with some costs like other well-known technologies including Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation.

The major drawback of implementing HTML5-based application in the wild is that the application must live within a Web browser, which limits the Web app’s connectivity to the other trading-related applications that live on the desk top.

Yet some vendor offer a workaround, such as containers in which developers can store their HTML5 code and still have that code connect to other applications in and outside of the Web browser.

But the greatest hurdles that might delay the adoption of HTML5 trading applications is not technical, but a matter of perception.

Developers working on Web-based trading platforms first must overcome the industry perception that HTML5-based applications are slow and as kludgy as their Web-based antecedents- they’re not.

Secondly, developers need to get buy in from the traders that they support. This is not always an easy task, given how possessive traders are about their trading desks once they have them configured the way they want.

One senior technologist at a large North American financial institution suggests that developers introduce their trading-desktop in a surreptitious and incremental fashion since “it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.”

Developers also will need to court whomever is responsible for the proxy servers that firms have at the edge of their network to allow HTML5-based applications to tunnel it TCP/IP traffic through the company’s proxy servers.

Without this bypass, the proxy server will capture the HTML-based traffic, crack it open to set the content of the TCP/IP packet, and bring the application to a screaming halt.

Address these issues, and delivering alpha-generating improvements to the trading desks can go from once every two months to once every two weeks.

Featured image via iStock

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