As far as Charting platforms go I would say there’s probably none more popular than MetaTrader4 (MT4 for short) for a variety of reasons. It’s free to download and use and is the software package that the majority of retail brokers offer to their clients. If you spend any time looking around trading forums and websites then you’ll also notice that the majority of screen-shots posted are always from MT4 as well.
MT4 basically offers all of the tools that a trader could need so that explains the popularity, crucially it also offers a high degree of customization which is always a massive plus for people with a background in coding who want to design their own indicators specifically for use with their trading systems.
If you look around the forums you can generally find a custom indicator to do just about any job. The downside is that your chart can end up looking like it’s on drugs if you continually add more and more but ultimately that’s up to the individual. The other big area of customization on MT4 is what’s called “Expert indicators” (EA’s for short). These are basically scripts that can be designed much like the indicators however they act more like a robot that automates your trading based on the criteria you program in.
Automated trading is now a huge market in itself and I guess it represents the dream of making money when you’re not even at your computer but ultimately it’s an extremely difficult task to find an EA that’s actually profitable. That’s not through a lack of trying either! People have devoted huge amounts of time to developing these programs but I’ve personally yet to find anyone that’s made any serious money doing it.
That being said EA’s don’t have to be complete automated systems just because that’s what most people are doing. I use an EA when I trade that’s purely programmed to manage my trades while I’m away. That means the decision to enter a trade is completely mine but once I’ve done so I can set the EA to move my stop loss at a set time and potentially close the trade early if certain conditions are met.
There’s many great charting software packages out there and at the end of the day the software you use isn’t going to ultimately define whether you’re a profitable trader or not. MT4 is one of the decent ones and chances are you will use it at some point in your trading so it’s good to know that it has all of the tools that you’re likely to need.