Interactive Brokers makes new API available for Python programmers

Maria Nikolova

Beginning with release 9.73, a new Python API client is now included.

FinanceFeeds has been updateing its readers on the improvements that Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:IBKR) has been introducing to its proprietary Trader Workstation (TWS) platform. Now it is time to take a look at another tech aspect of enhancing the TWS functionality which is targeted at professional developers – the TWS API.

The TWS API is considered to be simple and powerful interface through which the clients of Interactive Brokers can automate their trading strategies, request market data and monitor their account balance and portfolio in real time. The target user base of the TWS API are experienced professional developers that want to enhance the current TWS functionality.

The TWS API works with the TWS platform and the IB Gateway. From the TWS API perspective, the IB TWS platform and IB Gateway are identical: both represent a server to which it can open a socket connection. On the other hand, from the user perspective, the IB Gateway is a lightweight application through which one can only make use of the TWS API. Unlike the TWS’ rich user interface, the IB Gateway does not offer the end user anything else than the very basic features to handle API connections. However, the IB Gateway does not need to be restarted every 24 hours and can therefore be used to run indefinitely.

Starting with release 9.73, a new Python API client is now included. After users install this beta release on their computer, they can find Python API components in the following locations:

  • Python API sample code – located in the samples/Python folder in the API installation directory (typically IB_973);
  • Python source code – located in the source/pythonclient folder in the API installation directory.

Let’s note the importance the launch of native Python API by Interactive Brokers. Until recently, one had to use third-party solutions for the purpose, an approach which always comes with risks.

Python as a programming language has a variety of advantages, such as its simplicity and its wide applicability – it can be used on multiple platforms and systems. Then, there is, of course, the fact that many of the IT giants have shown preference for Python. The list of disadvantages include (unfortunately) that Python is slow.

When comparing various programming languages for its API, Interactive Brokers still highlights Java as the most popular one.

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