Hi! My name is Andrew, and I am a product manager. Many of my responsibilities and key activities rely heavily on understanding specific market niche(s) and their players. So, when I started working with financial charts, my team researched the market of charting solutions for businesses/developers creating web/mobile applications focused on trading and investment. Today I am sharing some info from that analysis with you.
In this article, I am going to describe and compare the best downloadable self-hosted charting libraries, in my humble opinion. I am considering a powerful trading or analytical platform as the environment for integrating the chart for market data visualization, analysis, and trading.
You may ask why a company needs a third-party solution. Because it is much cheaper and faster, of course. Building an advanced charting module from scratch for a fintech product costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and takes many months, if not years, to deliver. That said, the ability to visualize a market, play around with its parameters, and apply even basic tools for technical analysis makes a big difference in forecasting where the price is headed.
The B2B charting solutions include:
It is worth mentioning that you’ll find many other charting solutions by different vendors, such as amCharts, FusionCharts, AnyCharts, ApexCharts, ChartsJS, Scichart, and more. In general, they’re all popular; however, they are no match, with respect to many aspects, to the ones I am going to look into in this article. I’ll also look into these aspects below in detail, but mainly because other vendors provide generalized charts (pie charts, maps, Gantt charts, etc.) and do not specialize in fintech.
These other vendors might be good options if you have a website you need a simple JavaSript chart for, and you don’t want to use the Google Charts for developers due to their limitations and slow product development. The only exception would be Highcharts Stock by Highcharts, so I am adding it to our overview as one of the best general chart providers for fintech.
One more thing about TradingView, before I start, is that the main product of the company is the B2C platform. It seems to be based on the same charting technology which they offer as the B2B product, separately. That’s why I am going to ignore everything else that is available in TV’s B2C platform for this article.
Disclaimer: This overview is based on research done in February 2022, mainly from open sources, which the researcher could have misinterpreted, so any information is subject to change.
When you are building a trading platform, an investor academy, or a social network for traders, the arsenal of functions for analysis is the key for the end-users. End-users are probably expected to pay for the service and support your business and should get the functions they need.
All 4 candidates support the must-have chart types such as Candlesticks, Bars, Line, Area, and even the more exotic Heikin-Ashi. ChartIQ and DXcharts have the biggest sets, though, and look like favorites.
Working with a visible data range on a chart is best in TV’s solutions, while DXcharts offers slightly better capabilities regarding aggregation periods. The developer can specify the defaults periods, while the end-user can use custom periods, add them to defaults, and even remove the default if they don’t need them. ChartIQ is good, but it lacks some UI for the same functions, while Highcharts is the modest option.
The ability to display a grid of several charts is presented by all mentioned vendors. However, only Trading Terminal by TV and DXcharts by Devexperts have the UI to control it out of the pile. Besides, they seem to be ahead of the competitors feature-wise, mainly in terms of synchronization between multiple charts.
Highcharts is significantly behind all other solutions when it comes down to actual tools for technical analysis: manually drawn objects (aka drawings) and automatically calculated indicators. I would say: DXcharts and ChartIQ win this round due to their dxScript and ScriptIQ editors. These allow end-users to create and modify their custom indicators. TV doesn’t offer a similar tool in their B2B charts.
If you are building an app for trading, TV’s charting library and Highcharts probably won’t work for you. TV’s Trading Terminal and Cosaic’s ChartIQ have a nominal parity, followed by DXcharts by Devexperts.
In general, all solutions are very advanced: themes, all types of style customizations, sharing capabilities, mobile touch screen optimization, and, of course, the ability for the end-user to save the work and get back to the chart layout. TV offers a great right-click menu, timeframe presets, and GoTo feature for easy navigation in the historical market data.
A charting tool is useless if there is no data to display. That is why I was surprised to know that the only downloadable charting library that comes with integrated market data out of the box is DXcharts. The data vendor is dxFeed, in this case. At the same time, DXcharts is advertised as data-provider-agnostic. That means, just like with all other solutions, you can plug in your data feed and display market data from any vendor.
TV, being probably the most popular charting, unfortunately, doesn’t give any documentation about integration easily. It’s poorly documented and located in a private Github repo that you need to opt for access to. There are some articles on Medium on how to integrate it, which doesn’t seem very hard. That said, you need to figure out some stuff yourself.
There is a proprietary language, though, for scripting studies called PineScript, and its documentation is done pretty well. You can read a lot about basic functions and types, and you also have hints in the embedded code editor. It’s a shame PineScript is not available in the charting library. With TV, it’s also tough to get support because they have too many clients, I guess.
ChartIQ has fantastic documentation; they put quite an effort into it. You start very quickly, with many articles that include technical details about how the library is working. Screenshots and console outputs are very helpful for developers to understand how to make it work.
They also have a scripting language, ScriptIQ. It works just like PineScript in TV’s B2C platform, but the documentation is very poor, and it lacks some features, like alerts.
Highcharts has a solid documentation page. You can quickly understand what you need to do to integrate it. Since Highcharts are not only trading charts, you won’t find much is written about trading charts, in particular. That said, they have API references for developers, but the number of examples is rather small. No scripting language for studies was found.
DXcharts has nice documentation as they have a quickstart page with multiple installation options. I also like the live examples — you can try the functionality right there and even change some parameters to see how it works dynamically. Sometimes, it’s hard to find some information, but they have a support channel, and they respond pretty quickly.
DXcharts has dxScript language for studies. It also has a documentation page with examples, not as extensive as TV’s PineScript, but still a solid alternative.
Highcharts is the only vendor that has at least some clarity on the cost structure on their webpage. They offer the solution for free if you don’t use it in a commercial project or haven’t launched your product yet.
All other providers request you to get in touch with them. So I tried, and here’s what I found.
There’s no free DXcharts version, though the price ladder starts from $1,500.
TradingView has a free-of-charge version with the logo and the link to its main platform. It is great as a starting point, but eventually, a lot of your customers could be converted to theirs. The paid versions without the logo/link are around $1,000–2,000 per month without additional limitations.
Cosaic’s prices seem to be the highest if you need all modules included. They also seem to apply limitations on the amount of simultaneously active end-users based on messages on a forum. That said, I didn’t find any official confirmation on that. There is no completely free version, as far as I know, but there is a 30-day trial period.
If you are from a software agency or from a fintech company that is going to roll out an app, here is your cheat sheet, with comparisons of all major financial charting libraries. There’s no ideal solution to satisfy all possible requirements. That said, some vendors can provide you with a powerful chart in your product and help you avoid tedious in-house development in case you need to focus on your core business.
Also published here.