Trade Talk Blog: APIs

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Last week on Twitter, #PreviewTT focused on the new APIs that we’re making available with the new TT platform. Tests show these are our fastest APIs to date, providing users with more flexibility and access than ever before. With normalized interfaces to all TT-connected exchanges, these APIs will allow customers to focus on building strategies and trading tools instead of dealing with exchange-specific nuances.

The APIs include:

  • The TT Software Development Kit (TTSDK), a high-performance Linux, C-based API for creating custom algorithms that run them on TT’s co-located execution servers.
  • A series of Web services for building rich client applications using the same APIs that we use to create the TT front-end applications. 
  • FIX services that make connecting FIX applications to TT easier than ever. 

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The new TT platform takes automated trading to a new level. Of course if you follow @Trading_Tech on Twitter, you already know that because we’ve been previewing some of the standout functionality there at #PreviewTT.

In the new platform, we’ve re-imagined and re-engineered our market-leading Autospreader®, ADL® (Algo Design Lab), Autotrader™ and API tools to be everything you know—but with more flexibility and accessibility than ever before.

  • Autospreader: TT comes with pre-canned popular features, like inside smart quote, which you can easily tweak and enhance. You can also build your own features with the new Rule Builder.
  • ADL: TT supports all the popular ADL functionality from X_TRADER®, like the ability to drive Autospreader with ADL. But you get even more with TT, like the ability to drive one algo from another.
  • Autotrader: You can launch the market-making algo that’s the backbone of the Autotrader window in X_TRADER from the TT Algo Dashboard. You can also create links between the inputs and outputs of any algo.
  • New APIs: The new TT APIs result in the lowest latency and highest throughput ever available from any TT application programming interface. In fact the TT Software Development Kit (TT SDK), a C/Linux-based API, delivers the highest level of performance and speed available in any TT API to date. (For more, see #PreviewTT: Get a Taste of Our APIs.)

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This week on Twitter, we’re providing a high-level overview of some of the new automated trading functionality that’s coming in the new TT platform. Today’s topic is application programming interfaces, or APIs.

We’ll be devoting an entire week to APIs later in the month, but it’s an exciting topic that’s generating a lot of interest among our customers, so you’ll get a preview of the preview today.

As the product manager responsible for APIs, I’m very excited about what the new TT platform enables us to do with regard to APIs. We’ve written an entirely new set that will deliver unprecedented access and flexibility to our users. They provide normalized interfaces for interacting with all of the TT-connected exchanges, which will allow customers to focus on building strategies and trading tools instead of dealing with exchange-specific nuances.

Here’s a quick overview.

The TT Software Development Kit, or TTSDK, includes a high-performance Linux, C-based API. Early tests show that this is our fastest API yet.

Using TTSDK, developers will be able to create custom algorithms and run them on TT’s co-located execution servers for the best possible performance. TT’s execution servers utilize the latest software and hardware acceleration technologies, such as kernel bypass, to dramatically reduce latency. Custom algos running on these servers will be able to access data and services outside the co-location facility, providing even more flexibility.
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I was amused by the recent flurry of media releases proclaiming the adoption of algorithmic trading in derivatives markets. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, could this be important new information that somehow leads us to enlightened trading? Or is it the case there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact? The latter are the words of one well-known sleuth, whose Watson would likely retort, “No kidding, Sherlock,” or something roughly comparable.

The infamous Sherlock Holmes

Avoiding the temptation to offer my own breaking insights, such as The Internet is here to stay! and Mobile communications expected to take off!, I will instead stay the high road, eschewing mirthful gratification for the sake of propriety. As our sleuth would advise, if you eliminate all other factors, the one which remains must be the truth: while other vendors are merely talking about algo trading in derivatives, Trading Technologies has been delivering for several years. I am therefore tickled pink that other vendors are now “discovering” this space. The algos are not missing, they are here. In production. Today.

One of TT’s first algorithmic solutions was our hosted Autospreader® Strategy Engine (SE), which is a very-low-latency computational server for executing synthetic spread algorithms such as calendar rolls, synthetic strips, butterflies and condors. Recent enhancements to this system include intuitive rule building for customized handling of pre- and post-trade hedging, as well as conditional participation and synthetic sniper spreads.

The Autospreader SE product is complemented by TT’s Synthetic Strategy Engine, another proximity-hosted server that provides a suite of algorithmic order types, including synthetic icebergs, TWAP, POV and triggered algos such as stops and if-touched orders.

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The wonders of modern technology are miraculous. Who wasn’t amazed by the news of Voyager I’s departure from the solar system into interstellar space? This feat seems incredible with current technology, let alone with propulsion, guidance and communication systems designed and built almost 40 years ago. With the scientific and engineering capabilities of the modern world, what technology problem can no longer be solved through the concerted efforts of smart engineers?

Let me offer one: financial systems interoperability. “Blasphemy,” you say, “have you not heard of FIX protocol, that cure for the financial industry’s tower of babel?” Sure, I know about FIX (Financial Information eXchange), which includes version 5.0, introduced around seven years ago, as well as the versions firms actually use, namely FIX 4.2 and FIX 4.4, which are 13 and 10 years old respectively.

So what’s the problem with FIX? Before discussing it, I want to clearly state that FIX goes a long way toward enabling integration of financial systems. But it doesn’t go all the way. In a world where fancy toys and even some kitchen gadgets offer plug-and-play interoperability with the Internet, it seems ironic to me that systems used by multi-billion dollar banks and asset managers can take weeks or months to integrate using FIX. FIX gets you into the ballpark, but you have to expend a huge amount of time and effort to locate your seat.

Ambiguity is a major issue, resulting in applications such as back-office and order management systems using different ways of expressing the same thing. You might know that FIX messages are built around sets of tags, where each tag is used to define a required or optional message attribute. The problem is that a fair amount of latitude is granted in the interpretation and use of many critical FIX tags. So the process of integrating two “standard” FIX-enabled systems often involves clunky gymnastics, such as tag remapping, suppression and injection. And no FIX integration effort is complete without the conformance test process, which often involves a fair amount of trial and error to get things right. This requires a lot of time and money, and can result in brittle integrations that often don’t accommodate new financial instruments without additional work.

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