Developing custom software

Discussion in 'Automated Trading' started by jonnysharp, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. Hey guys,

    I'm looking to get my trading system developed into a custom, stand-alone program that is feed data from a outside server and is personalised for myself. I can't program but know some basics. I'm looking to outsource the work to a software developer but am un-aware of how to judge one from the other, what is a realistic rate per hour, and is one particular language cheaper to code than another?

  2. chvid


    Search this forum for similar discussions.

    You need to spec out requirements and overall software architecture (what broker you have, with what and how you integrate with the outside server etc.) to find the scale of the project and give you an idea of what sort of programmer you need to hire.
  3. Jonny,

    There is an iteresting thread about developers at

    Check it.

    chs advise is correct. Most of the time you'll spend communicating with your developer, thus increasing cost. The best thing for you is to spec your requirements to get an idea of cost. A senior developer can do this for you also, but your cost will increase.

  4. Tums


    The quickest route: you can try out InteractiveBrokers' Excel spreadsheet model. It is already done, free for download, and easily modified by the user.

    The more advanced route requires a trading program as a platform. e.g. MultiCharts, NinjaTrader, OpenQuant, Neoticker, etc.
    All the trade management and broker management are built-in the program, you do not need to re-invent the wheel.

    To develop a "Stand-alone" program from scratch is not necessarily the easiest route. Usually once a program is done, it is "etched in stone" and not easily modifiable by the user. Every time you need to change something, except for the limited number of pre-programmed variable parameters, you will have to call in the programmer to make the modification for you.
  5. hey jonny,

    In choosing a developer I think the most important thing is to first define clearly what you want from your project. This will solve 80% of your problems. Short advice here is if you make it complicated it will cost more. Best advice is to keep things short and simple, so you can get reasonable quotes and quick turnarounds.

    Next is to hit up some developers. Elite trader is weird about solicitation on it's forums, so I setup a site where systems programmers post their serivices and rates and potential customers can inquire about services and prices:

    I think you will find a wide range, somepeople overseas will build you stuff for $20/hr or cheaper. I have heard stories about programmers who charge you $10k to get started!

    When you talk to the programmers, explain your project clearly and make sure they understand. If they say they get it, but they don't show you... move on. Then ask them questions about how they run their projects. There are a lot of guys who are great programmers but poor project managers. You might save money you'll be stressed worrying about whether they'll come through or constantly having to go back to them. Other guys will throw so much definition at you it might be too expensive. Just ask quesitons, pay attention to the answers, you'll be fine.

    in terms of languages you should just go with whatever the programmer is most comfortable with, unless you have a specific preference up front. Perhaps more important than the language is the trading platform. Some platforms are tied to specific brokers. Others are expensive or have limited programmer pools. I am biased in that I developed an open source platform that is broker neutral, which of course I think is best bc you can roll other platforms ontop of it. Some people prefer the comfort of a big company's tech support department to hold their hand though.

    hope that helps.
  6. Greg


    As a long time Programmer, Architect and Developer I always use the following motto.

    1) Good.
    2) Fast.
    3) Cheap.

    Pick any of the two you want from your developer. You just can not have all three.


    Being on both ends of the software business. I have service contracts to do work and I sub contract out overflow work. I can say that not all programmers are equal. Age and experience have a lot to do with the level of success of your project. You truly get what you pay for. There are few short cuts here that don't come back to haunt you in the end.
  7. edbar


    I believe there is too much involved in a trading system to either do it yourself or to hire someone to do it for you.

    Companies have already spent hundreds of thousands and in some cases million$ to create systems and make them available for you to customize. Some, like CoolTrade, are completely point-and-click and do not require any programming on your part, for a complete trading system.

    I created the CoolTrade system (over 7 years). It is available for a small monthly fee, and is free if you use it with your TD AMERITRADE account. Obviously, as the founder, I would endorse CoolTrade, but even other companies like NinjaTrader, Trade-Ideas, Tradestation, etc., have systems that completely blow away the notion of programming your own trading system.

    As the developer of a commecial trading system, I can say first hand, that it is much more involved than most realize. It's not the kind of project that you can just hand to any programmer.

    Good Luck!

  8. chvid


    BTW: I second tums and edbar's good advice:

    Take a throughout look at what is out in terms of standard software / platforms before you endeavor on building your own.

    The more you can get away with using standard software the better.

    Software development is one giant disgression when the goal is automated trading.

    The focus should be the trading model not its surroundings.
  9. Greg


    I agree with both Edbar and Chvid. You really need to have something special to go out and have it developed.

    Just a quick idea of what you could expect from a serious developer. From scratch you would need about $10k just to explain and set up the project. You could expect another $50k to $100k in the first two iterations of the code. Debugging and iterative testing could run as much as $50k. Twists and turns in the requirements of the tool maybe another $100k to $300k. It goes on from there. If this is a venture for you that you have a business based on that would net you seven figures a year, then this might be the path for you.

    Tweaking an existing platform could be from $5k to $100k. Depending on what your trying to tweak.

    Having it done by a college grad or high schooler is rolling the dice.

    Offshoring your work is only good if you have the ability to have someone "Visit" the off shore developer and " Convince " them its in their best interest. Think Sopranos

    You will find that the less money you have to develop the code the less likely you will be able to retain the long term interest of your developers.

    #10     Jun 15, 2008