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HTML5 Developers in Demand; Charting Gains Greater Attention

As Wall Street firms increasingly are turning to HTML5 as the preferred programming language for trading applications and mobile, trading firms are now finding themselves competing with Silicon Valley for development talent.

Perry Moutzouros, director of enterprise and emerging technology for Eze Software's RealTick EMS group, says that nine out of 10 job applicants that they interview for developer positions have application development on a web platform experience at the project level within their university curriculum.

That's the good news. The bad news is that they don't tend to have an understanding legacy back-office platforms.

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HTML5 development used to be black art, but it isn't anymore. -- Paul Caplin

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"You're already getting a set of developers coming in that are familiar with [HTML5] technology itself. When it comes to Wall Street and trading, the challenge is being able to transition that knowledge for those developers to understand the performance requirements we have within our vertical," Moutzouros says. "And that, for us, is always a challenge because new developers coming in don't understand the performance and analytics part of the job. They have the toolset and can be productive from the start, but you need to have a strong mentor relationship with the senior developers, who have the financial background."

To accommodate for this deficiency, Moutzouros says that Eze Software separates the work to let the new developers start by working on front-end systems and delivery, and slowly integrate them backwards in architecture toward the database modeling and actual financial transactions and trading.

But at the same time capital markets firms are turning more toward HTML5 for trading applications and mobile development, the pool of developers is increasing, as well.

"They're all coming out with HTML5 experience. What we've found is that the adoption rate has increased, and it has increased within specific APIs and libraries, whether jQuery or AngularJS," he says.

Paul Caplin, who is the CEO of Caplin Systems, which specializes in web-based technologies through the use of HTML5, agrees with Moutzouros and says that the programming language will only continue to be more in demand on Wall Street.

"It's the fastest growing pool of development that there is," Caplin says. "It may not be the biggest job in development yet, but it's growing way faster than any other group of people."

And for those firms still lacking knowledgeable developers, to help firms roll out new projects using HTML5, Caplin released BladeRunner, which is a framework for building enterprise-scale HTML5 apps. The platform was designed so that anyone that knows JavaScript can build a trading app relatively quickly and easily without having to learn too much HTML5 development.

"It used to be a black art, but it isn't anymore," he says.

Charting a Course
One area where developers are needed is charting. Two years ago Dan Schleifer and Terrence Thorsen started ChartIQ because, while HTML5 can offer a rich user experience for trading apps, when it comes to building charts there are latency and development hurdles to cope with.

"HTML5 is great for building cross platform apps for order entry for an equity or options trade; it's really, really terrible for things like charting," Schleifer says. "If you were going to build a cross-asset platform to build something that is as map intensive and visually intensive as charting, you would never, ever come up in a million years with HTML5. However, it's the best option that's out there. "

Schleifer says that most charting software were built using Java, Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe Flash. As the industry moves on from these programming languages, so too must firms looking to improve their charting capabilities.

Salient Points

● While most college graduate developers have HTML5 experience, what they lack is an understanding of how the language integrates with legacy finance systems. It's a competitive market, as Wall Street has to compete with Silicon Valley firms for talent.

● One area where developers are needed is when it comes to charting as HTML5 still have some restrictions when it comes to mapping and latency.


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