Crash once and a reputation is ruined. Professional traders have zero tolerance for mistakes.
Chicago-based Barchart.com is one of the largest suppliers of delayed futures market data on the internet. In addition to its website, Barchart.com, it offers real-time subscription packages for active traders. To develop an iOS app for iPhone and iPad for viewing or trading real time futures, Barchart turned to Proekspert.
Massive data, small device
“The challenge,” according to Barchart President Eero Pikat, “was channeling a raw data stream into a phone and expecting it to be processed and display an order book in real time that moves.” And moves it does. Every single second, the app updates ten times, unpacking, analyzing, and directing 10,000 values – without undue strain on a device’s battery. “There’s a stress component when pulling in real time data,” says Pikat. “It cannot fall behind, it must be responsive and reactive.” When traders use Barchart data and products, the firm’s reputation is at stake. Pikat’s bottom line: “You can’t have someone with a trade pending and have the app go boom.”
Learning a new business
Priit Rebina, Proekspert’s lead software developer, says most projects begin with specs. “But with Barchart I had to learn the business, otherwise the specs would have been 100 pages long.” To learn the basics of the futures business, Proekspert spent time with Pikat himself, and also brought in a professional trader to learn more. “We wanted to know how people think, how they use these tools,” says Vambola Kotkas, who coded the app’s trading functions.
Is outsourcing scary?
The key challenge for client and supplier sometimes differs. For Barchart, it was Pikat’s first time to outsource. “In general, I’m not a fan of outsourcing,” says Pikat, who has a background in software development. “Allowing a third party to create a black box we didn’t have control over was a bit scary. But we had very regular sprint meetings, a regular back and forth, and we always knew what we were working on.” In post-project evaluations, Pikat gave Proekspert highest marks. But the ultimate test is the product itself – and this one is still in active use by 1,000 Barchart clients.