In general, forex trading platforms offer their users the ability to manually enter and execute forex trades with an online forex broker. They generally require a reliable Internet connection to operate efficiently, and if they require a software download, they usually run on Windows-based computers. More advanced trading platform features might include: the ability to manage multiple trading accounts, charting functionality, and algorithmic trading support with back-testing capabilities.
A trading platform provides information such as quotes and charts, and includes an interface for entering orders to be executed by the broker. Trading platform software can be locally based, meaning it is installed on the trader's computer and can be used with Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Some brokers offer software that is web based. The advantage of web-based trading platforms is that they can be used by almost any computer with internet access.
Depending on an individual's hardware and software characteristics, one might prefer a desktop application or a web-based (java) application. Understanding which type of platform suits you best is critical for trading. It is also important to make sure that the trading platform does not crash or freeze often, especially during times of global economic news or events, when traders needs stability. The reliability of a platform should be more of a concern than its look and feel.
Many good trading platforms will provide a full featured set of technical analysis tools that should include charting and a good range of popular indicators for the currency pairs that you are thinking of trading. Charts should be updated on a real time basis for a variety of time frames, and a useful additional feature is to be able to trade directly from your charts. If you need to use a particular technical indicator for your trading strategy, make sure that any platform under consideration includes this indicator.
Some factors to consider when looking for trading platform are: Is it free? If there is a nominal charge? What additional features are made available? What technical indicators are available in the charting component? Is the software Windows, Mac or internet (Java or HTML) based? Can you trade from the charts? What is the order interface? What types of orders are available? Is historical data made available through the software? Does the platform have an API that allows additional software or programming etc?