Please port WLP to other platforms
Author: algtrader
Creation Date: 8/27/2014 9:18 AM
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algtrader

#1
I know that many have asked this before, but I'm wondering why
Fidelity hasn't yet come out with versions of WLP for Macintosh,
or Linux. I think it behooves Fidelity to do this, for several reasons:

1. Mac and Linux users should not be ignored. They're
significant segment of the retail market that's untapped,
as far as WLP is concerned. Right now WLP is used on Mac and
Linux only by users who have enough technical ability to
configure virtual Windows environments.


2. Porting WLP can be done using the Mono development platform,
which provides .NET v2 to 4.5 compliance. Thanks to the standards
that Microsoft submitted to ECMA & ISO for the core class
libraries, CTS, CIL and C#, C++/CLI languages, verification of
the Mono implementations are done against the same reference
specifications that Microsoft uses.

Because WLP's language and platform components are (mostly)
standards-based, it's possible that after the port, there will
only be 1 build that runs on all platforms that implement the ECMA
standards. This is in contrast with Java-based systems. Because
Java is mainly a language standard with some afterthoughts, it's
very difficult to create a complex Java-based system that lives
up to the "build once, run everywhere" hype.

Porting Caveats are:
- Get rid of the Win-specific MainModule.Instance.AppPath + "\\..."
and MainModule.Instance.DataPath + "\\..." constructs in favor
of Path.DirectorySeparatorChar, Path.PathSeparator, and
Path.VolumeSeparatorChar.
- Re-implement all remaining Visual Basic dependencies
- Re-implement any native x86 code into CIL-based or standard library
based.
- OS-related issues: Threading, Filesystem, SharedMem,
external 3rd-party libraries.
- Suggestion: Stay within a .Net4 target: This will ensure the highest
level of compatibility across platforms.

The porting should be fairly straightforward, and result in
improvements not limited to just portability and standards-compliance alone.
I'm sure there will be performance improvements.


3. While it's true that Fidelity has the clear advantage in that no
other retail firm has anything that compares to WLP, it will only
be a matter of time until the others catch up.

Currently, the only other real competitor is Interactive Broker's
system, which from the start has been multi-platform, made possible
by their use of Java and open source libraries. It's been years
since I last used their system, but it didn't have the same level
of support that WLP has for retail traders.

As for the rest of the retail firms, they have, well, nothing,
because the rest are simply just a collection of disparate APIs, and
not an entire platform like WLP.

Fidelity should strive to maintain and extend this lead.
If not, the situation can quickly change, because implementing a similar system
on an open source platform can be done using a number of ways.

- R: http://www.r-project.org - my choice.
- PDL: http://pdl.perl.org/ - choice #2
- Gretl: http://gretl.sourceforge.net/
- Admb: http://www.admb-project.org/
- Chronux: http://www.chronux.org/
- SciPy: http://www.scipy.org/
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Eugene

#2
Please refer to Cone's reply #4 in this thread, saying that that's not really a possibility.

This is not going to happen because it's not worth the trouble i.e. there's not enough bang for the buck to Fidelity. The majority, including corporate and institutional traders, still runs Windows. That's over 85% of users:

Usage share of operating systems

What you called "many users" is actually a handful and represent only a small fraction of all customers. I know well that all Mac users of Wealth-Lab Developer have been able to run it on OS X using virtual machines. And Linux's share on desktops is below 2%, Mac is above 6%. While I like Linux and use it sometimes, the situation will not "change quickly" as it hasn't done so in the last 10 years or so:


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algtrader

#3
I've seen the numbers you're quoting, and they're not really useful, because they're a quote of TOTAL sales, which includes CORPORATE, GOVERNMENT, and INDIVIDUAL. Worse, this is a WORLDWIDE statistic. Microsoft sales would be over-emphasized because almost every PC sold comes with a Microsoft OS, regardless of whether or not the buyer installs another OS on top.

The only statistic that you should be looking at is that which concerns the population which Fidelity serves:
- Individual investors who do, or potentially can actively trade their portfolios.
- Individual investors in the above population that have PCs, laptops, regardless of operating system.

You don't need to count the PC's in Goldman Sachs or UBS offices, which your statistic counts.

What's more useful is the "Web Clients by OS Families" statistic in your referenced Wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems#Web_clients
This is more correct, because it largely counts PEOPLE using browsers. My guess is that it overcounts Windows browsers because of all the automated crawlers and bots out there which emulate the browser with the largest market share: IE. It doesn't make sense for a bot to emulate an Apple browser, for example, because most sites work best with IE. So, even with all that over-counting, Apple-based browsers account for a good 17% of usage. .... and that's more realistic.

I have to admit, that the Web clients statistics have two caveats below, which only serves to emphasize that the 94% Windows world that you emphasize is wrong.
1. "Linux family" of OS includes Android. This, however, is a correct assessment: Android is a 100% Linux OS, and can in fact run most Linux applications re-compiled with few changes. Larger more capable versions of droid-based phones, tablets and notebooks will increasingly do what desktops can do.
2. "Apple family" of OS includes iPhone. Again, this is still a correct assessment, because iPhone runs virtually the same Linux kernel that runs on their larger desktop and server machines. Applications need few changes to port them from any Unix/Linux/OSx-based operating system to iOS. Larger more capable versions of iPhones and iPads will increasingly do what desktops can do.


Bottom line: it doesn't serve Fidelity to write off users of non Windows PCs (Macintosh and Linux users).
Mac users, for example, spend a lot more money on their PC purchases - it's not a smart move for Fidelity to discount
the implications of that fact. I guarantee that Fidelity will regret their decision to say that Mac users are but a "fraction".
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Eugene

#4
I'm not a spokesperson for Fidelity. The point here was that there are many Mac users who routinely work with Wealth-Lab Developer and do not feel themselves "written off". They just use it.
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coppola

#5
I also would agree with algtrader, that porting WL to OSX would both benefit fidelity and the WL customers greatly.

here are some reasons:

1)the osx platform is from my point of view lightyears ahead of windows in every way.

2)i did not find any other trading platform on the level of WL, which runs on the mac. other real competitors like trade station, ninja trader etc run also only on windows.

3)the osx marketshare is rising fast:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/03/15/windows_desktop_and_laptop_market_share_dips_below_90_per_cent/

and i think also the usage of the mac in the trading community
is much higher then the average marketshare.

so fidelity would give a lot of WL customers what they want and could attract a lot of other clients from other platforms too.

sounds like a win-win to me.
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algtrader

#6
@Cone and @Eugene,

Firstly, I'd like to reiterate that you guys do a great job, and adding my request to the drone of those requesting ports to other OSs are not directed against you as affronts. I know that this site is primarily for user Q/A support, and that company product directions are not decided here. I appreciate very much that you're fielding these difficult (if not tiresome) requests. It's part of the high level of WLP support for Windows users, and it's primarily because of this level of support that I remain with Fidelity and not go back to International Brokers (or other firms) who have upped their technology offerings dramatically in the past years. As I said, it's the support that's keeping me here, and the sentiments are not targeted against you guys. I just want to be able to use WLP on another platform such as MacBook (never mind my Linux box -- I'll pursue that after the OSx version :).

Change is difficult for a privately-held company such as Fidelity, where the firm's direction is dictated by the managing Johnson family.

That said, it's my most sincerest hope that these user sentiments will bubble up to decision makers at Fidelity -- that Fidelity management take another look at the current (not past) technology landscape, and realize that the pace of non-MS tablet, notebook, and smartphone purchases are quickly outpacing the appetite for those with WindowsOSs. My work, for example, has absolutely no plans to act on Microsoft's Windows9. We've made the painful upgrade to Windows7, and will switch to something else when Microsoft pulls another fast one by killing Windows7. In the meantime, we're in the 2nd year of an iOS/OSx policy, where desktop users of old PCs can upgrade to a Mac. At my home, we're technology-neutral, using Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. We use what's best for us: My wife's next laptop will be a MacBook, because we've concluded that it's the most appropriate for her needs. The only relevant factors in our decision were what suited her needs. That we'll be adding an OSx laptop was an irrelevant factor in the decision process. Also irrelevant were: the historical tally of installed base of Microsoft OSs (which includes those in the 4 old mothballed PCs in my garage), along with Microsoft's plans for Windows9, WindowsRT, or WindowsPhoneOS.

I know that each of our anecdotal examples are not formal statistical surveys, and individual sentiments are just that: opinions of a single person. However, I can't get past the fact that every other person that I know, has either an iOS or OSx powered hardware. My extended circle of acquaintances, friends, and family is probably not representative of the "general population" on which surveys are based. We're mostly middle class (such as I), a few are affluent, but as I said, many have at least one Mac (acutally about half, maybe more), a few are all-Apple households, even fewer are tech geeks like me, and all are investment-conscious. I would hazard to guess that my small survey circle more closely represents Fidelity's target population. If anything, Fidelity should do some real research and find out why Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, and others are offering solid iOS, Android, OSx, and in some cases, Linux products. Perhaps Fidelity has been right to ignore non-Windows users all along -- or more probably, not.