ChartIQ Blog

Posted on by Terry Thorsen

The Future of Finance: HTML5 and the Desktop

The Desktop Renaissance

Financial technology is undergoing a rapid change. In the same way that companies shifted to web systems in the 90s, there is momentum to replace legacy desktop systems (.NET and Java) and web 1.0 systems (Flash and Silverlight) with HTML5 desktop applications. HTML5 is the most compelling state-of-the-art technology for building any GUI-based, cross-device application. HTML5 allows developers to deploy a single code base to both the browser and the desktop. Along with its siblings, CSS and JavaScript, HTML5 can build 99% of today’s applications.

HTML5: The Promise of Interactivity

Over the last thirty years, the financial industry has been unduly reliant on legacy technology. As a result, retail brokerages and large institutional banks have been stymied and are now behind the innovation curve.

When managing and analyzing large amounts of data, traders and analysts need interactivity. They need to be able to zoom in, zoom out, annotate, draw lines, and more. Legacy technology can render static charts, but dynamic charts are the critical financial tools that traders and analysts need to be successful at their job. These dynamic tools are difficult to achieve with legacy technology—not only because it puts a burden on the developer to build that functionality, but because some of the tools that they are leveraging were not meant to be dynamic. At its core, HTML5 provides this interactivity.

HTML5 offers the ability to build powerful user interfaces that break the old paradigms. Because HTML5 is so flexible, it can accommodate any interface, giving developers freedom and agility. Programmers can build an interface that actually solves the problem rather than trying to cram a problem into a pre-existing interface. The end result is that businesses that use HTML5 have happier customers and better user experiences across the board.

HTML5 runs within browsers, whether it’s a desktop, smartphone, or tablet. It is connected to the power of the internet and cloud-based services, and, with recent innovations, it can run in standalone “browser containers” that mimic traditional desktop applications without being resource heavy. It supports all the key media types, from PDFs to streaming video. It is extremely stable, secure, and requires no updates.

HTML5 is well past the tipping point—it’s been thoroughly vetted, matured, and is here to stay. With confidence and patience, many financial companies have understood the benefits of HTML5 and are taking steps to move away from legacy technology.


Example of HTML5 technology being used in Finsemble to build a workflow with Salesforce, Symphony, Greenkey, and RSRCHXchange.


Once in a Generation Shift

Given these advantages, ChartIQ’s solutions run on HTML5. ChartIQ’s Charting Library is a developer-friendly financial visualization engine built using a highly robust API and delivered as a simple software development kit. Webtrader is a sleek, white labeled front end that is completely compatible with MT4. Both of these are built in HTML5 so that they are interactive, responsive, and can be embedded anywhere.

However, though capital markets firms are moving towards updating their technology stack with these kinds of best-in-class software solutions, there are industry-specific concerns that prevent them from immediately or completely abandoning their legacy applications altogether. ChartIQ’s new product, Finsemble, addresses these gaps.

Finsemble is a framework for creating HTML5 desktop applications powered by the OpenFin operating layer. Finsemble allows different pieces of software to be “assembled” into a single desktop application. These applications look, feel, and behave like native desktop applications, but are built in HTML. This allows firms to use all the tools they’re currently using—legacy, modern, or third-party—and have them all magically work together. Thus, Finsemble is a bridge into modernity for the financial tech world.

Learn more about Finsemble and HTML5 technology by downloading the white paper.