FIA Expo Panel Highlights Benefits of Open Source and Interoperability with BTS' Kevin Darby

Managing Partner Kevin Darby spoke on a panel last week at FIA Expo exploring Open Source and Interoperability on the Trading Desk. Joined by Brian Peterson at Hehmeyer Trading + Investments, Jared Broad from QuantConnect, Tom Schady from GreenKey Technologies and moderated by Greg Wood from FIA; the group discussed how open source software can lead to increased innovation. If you missed it, below is a re-cap of the discussion.

What is Open Source Software (OSS)?

Many people don’t realize that they use open source software in their everyday lives. For instance, OSS serves as the core of both Android (Linux) and iOS (Darwin) phone operating systems, and most websites are served from Linux servers.

Sharing source code originated at Universities with students and academics sharing software. Later, open source licenses enabled software to be shared more widely. OSS leverages wide communities to build features and fix errors rapidly. For example, all software code has a certain number of errors or bugs, but more eyes on the code means less bugs in the the software.


Open source software can also provide protocols and data format standards that enable communication between systems, which is called interoperability. BTS uses Google’s protocol buffers within its system and API to standardize communication between the client front end, the server, and with custom programs developed by traders.

Applications are often written in layers, allowing open source and proprietary code to coexist in in the same system. With these layers, some parts can be designed to be interchangeable; enabling interoperability with many different APIs and standards. FIX is a good example where one system may need to communicate with many, often incompatible versions; building communication layers allows translations from each FIX dialect into a consistent form used by the system.

Judicious use of OSS can reduce friction in interoperation between different systems and speed up development. For example, BTS uses the Boost C++ libraries for many common functions which we would otherwise have to write ourselves.


A common concern about OSS is that the code is visible and an attacker may be able to find and exploit a security vulnerability. However widespread community security evaluations prove that when more people have access to code, more issues are fixed. The panel emphasized that 20,000 people will see more issues than 20 people.

Also, security vulnerabilities are fixed quickly because there is constant and consistent peer review. Bounties; where a company pays to be informed of a security hole, can significantly improve the number of issues found.

There are also tools which search for code known to contain vulnerabilities in publicly available source code such as those used by Github.


In conclusion, while there are security and backwards compatibility concerns with Open Source Software, the panel largely believed in its ability to foster Interoperability and innovation and to address bugs and security flaws quickly.

If you would like to learn more about how Blue Trading Systems designs their software and other research projects ongoing at the firm, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Have a Question?


318 W Adams St
Suite 1724
Chicago, IL 60606
Telephone: (919) 913-0850

Chapel Hill

194 Finley Golf Course Road
Suite 100
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Follow Us

Twitter: @bts_software
LinkedIn: Blue Trading Systems
Facebook: Blue Trading Systems