Last week it was reported that the long awaited Build 600 for MetaTrader 4 was out. In it included two main features, the addition of the marketplace tab where users could purchase expert advisors (EA) and custom indicators directly from the platform, as well as an update to the MQL4 language that would make it more adaptable to MQL5 which is used by MetaTrader 5. For MetaQuotes, two important items were riding on the build update; the capture of additional MT4 third party product revenues, as well as creating a programming language that would become more compatible with MT5.
MetaQuotes’ interest in being a bigger player of distribution of third party products built around MetaTrader 4 has been well documented over the last two years, as they have launched a Trading Signals marketplace, mobile apps and one click trading, while simultaneously restricting brokers from using competing products on the grounds of “violating MT4 network’s protocols.”
While the addition of the marketplace tab brought the EA and indicator store closer to users, the biggest changes clients would experience with Build 600 was the update of the MQL4 code. As it was being slightly altered, EA and custom indicators creation would require following protocols of the new language. In advance of the changes, MetaQuotes had posted on its user forums documentation explaining the update as well as providing a solution for beta testing programs in the new environment. The company also announced to users that with the exception of a small percentage of cases, all previous EAs and indicators would continue to work correctly after the build as they stated, “There is no need to worry about the operability of the previously developed trading robots and indicators, as the runtime environment copy of the previous MQL4 version is used to maintain compatibility. Thus, old EX4 files work correctly and exactly the same way as before.”
As with many software updates, initial reaction among MT4 users was a disconnect between reality and expectations as widespread complaints from retail traders sprung up immediately after the update had taken place, and was downloaded by the first wave of the platform’s users. Traders found that despite assurances from MetaQuotes, old EAs were in fact not operating correctly. Two issues that occurred were old EX4 files not being moved to the correct folders following the update, as well as users experiencing errors in their code. As a result, Build 600 users found themselves needing to move their old EA and indicator files to different folders to operate, and/or recompiling code using the new language. In addition to forcing traders to seek solutions in trading forums, brokers and EA providers of copy trading technology also found themselves suddenly requiring to educate clients of solutions to the problem. In this regard, FXCM has dedicated a forum discussion to the problem on DailyFX, while numerous other brokers have sent emails to clients with explanations of the update and solutions. However, like users, brokers also appear to have been taken off guard by the impacts of the build update, as any statements from firms ahead of the release only cited MetaQuotes’ announcement that existing files should continue to operate correctly.
In response to user problems, MetaQuotes has recently released two new updates; build 603 and 604. Based on feedback among programmers on MetaQuotes forums, the updates have corrected some compatibility issues, but others still remain. As such, many have still been forced to use the standards of the new MQL4 language and recompile their EAs and indicators. While this provides a solution, it is an extra hassle for developers of which many are feeling that they have been squeezed into a forced upgraded.
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Broker and Developer Feedback
Speaking to brokers, they have related that the main casualties are EA traders who are suddenly seeing their programs stop working. Money managers using MAMM software, as well as click traders haven’t reported any issues with Build 600 and beyond. As such, depending on broker client mix, overall effects of the build update are different. According to a director at one broker, he viewed the problems more in terms of a “headache” than a problem. However, support staff at the same firm discussed with Forex Magnates that they are receiving blame for the problem with expectations that the broker will be the one to fix the code of EAs purchased from third parties. Elsewhere, another firm mentioned that they were seeing a reduction of volumes taking place because of Build 600, and are expecting overall industry numbers to be lower in February as a result.
In terms of support from MetaQuotes, brokers have cited that the technology provider has been forwarding their broker clients to the MQL4 forum for explanation on the matter, without issuing a direct statement to them about the impact of the build update. On this matter, Forex Magnates reached out to multiple members from MetaQuotes to explain what is causing the incompatibility issue, as well as whether an additional will take place to fix the problem. As of publishing time, MetaQuotes has yet to respond to any of our inquiries.
Among brokers willing to publicly comment on the matter, Angus Walker, Head of Trading, IC Markets, stated to Forex Magnates that, “Build 600 and above have caused some short- term headaches for clients but we understand the improvements made to the terminals and MQL4 language will far outweigh these.” He added that among those being affected, “Professional traders and software developers using EAs at IC Markets did appear to be affected albeit for a very short period of time. The worst affected clients since the release of Build 600 have been those using commercial EAs where the developers have not yet released a version that is compatible with Build 600 and higher.”
One of the grievances that is being reported nearly unanimously among MetaTrader 4 traders and brokers is the inability to control updates. About this, Walker mentioned that “Ideally traders would be able to update their terminals to newer builds when they’re ready. Unfortunately this privilege was removed last year due to the hacking of old builds of the client terminals.” In this regard, within several trader forums, customers have reported that their brokers have stated to them that their brokers have little control in handling MetaTrader platform updates.
As alluded to earlier in Walker’s comments, among EA users, those seeing the greatest disruptions are traders with purchased EX4 programs. Without the technical know-how to adapt their EAs to the new build, brokers have told Forex Magnates that many of these traders are seeing their products rendered useless and are awaiting support answers from sellers of the software. For developers though, this has caused many of them to require recoding of their EAs using the updated MQL4 language. Based on MetaQuotes’ statements before launching Build 600, this just might be what they were hoping for all along.