Accelerating UI development with integrated desktops



Trading system user interfaces are usually composed of many different components that each provide their own discrete piece of business functionality, for example a price tile, chart, trade ticket or blotter.


These components need to be managed, permissioned, able to communicate with each other and arranged in user customisable layouts often in separate windows and on different screens.


We now also frequently see the requirement to integrate both new and legacy applications together that have been built in different technologies in a seamless way.

Historically, every time a new trading system user interface is built, a bespoke framework has been developed first to perform all of these tasks before the actual business components are developed.

There are now products available such as openfin, Finsemble and Glue42 Enterprise that do all of this and much more. This enables the development effort for your application to focus on the business functionality which is where the greatest benefit to users and competitive advantage is to be had whilst also accelerating the development and reducing the overall build cost.

What is an integrated desktop?


Depending on the product an integrated desktop may also be referred to as a smart desktop, an intelligent desktop or a desktop OS.

The core functionality that they all provide is a multi-window environment with customisable workspaces that can host and arrange components which may be from different applications built in different technologies as if they were a single application. These can be docked, tabbed, torn off and arranged into separate windows.

There are message buses to allow the components to communicate with each other and to switch context. They can also be individually sandboxed from each other for security.

Additional features that some of the products provide include UX toolkits for a variety of UI technologies (Web, Java Swing, WPF & WinForms), as well as app store type functionality. They also include adaptors to third party applications such as Bloomberg, SalesForce and Microsoft Office.

OpenFin, FinSemble and Glue42 all support the FDC3 standard.

Native experience for web applications


Most new user interfaces are now developed as web applications using JavaScript / TypeScript and CSS together with frameworks such as angular or react.

These applications don’t need to be restricted to being displayed in a traditional web browser when you are using an integrated desktop though as their components can be rendered in separate windows, looking and behaving just as a native application would whilst also making use of native operating system functionality.

This is possible as all the products use Electron (which in turn uses Chromium) to render web applications. You may already be using Electron applications today such as Microsoft Teams or Skype without even knowing it.

Legacy technology migration


We often work on migration projects where we rebuild complex trading system user interfaces in the latest web technologies. As an integrated desktop can host both legacy and web applications it makes it much easier to do a phased migration where components are replaced gradually rather than using a big-bang approach. This reduces the business risk and accelerates the release of new technology.


To discuss how we can accelerate the development of your trading system user interface with openfin, Finsemble or Glue42 contact us.

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