Bloomberg programmers reveal £60m software development strategy

Bloomberg Next development involved advanced analysis of trader decisions
  • Leo King (Unknown Publication)
  • 28 February, 2012 19:09

Bloomberg developers today showed how the company embarked on a massive programming project to develop the $100 million (£63 million) Bloomberg Next system.

Bloomberg Next, launched publicly today to much fanfare, was developed over several years by over 3,000 programmers.

Sean Edwards, chief technology officer at Bloomberg, showed an audience at Bloomberg's London headquarters images of his team using advanced systems to monitor test users' steps and analyse the data, ahead of the programming.

Using advanced eye movement recognition technology for clients who chose to participate in tests, Bloomberg was able to ascertain exactly what the users were looking at on screen. It also tracked mouse movements and keyboard taps so that it could analyse typical patterns for different types of users.

"We could see in real time exactly what users looked at on the screen, as well as what they were missing," Edwards said. "We wanted to make sure they were getting the most from our data, and finding what they needed."

"We developed Bloomberg Next using our in-house 'Rapid' system, which is for application development," he said. "We developed Rapid four years ago, and use it for ultra-agile development and changes of all sizes."

"Rapid allows us to take feedback from a trader, hand it to the developers, and return an simple system updates to the trader later that day. With that kind of speed we were able to effect massive change on a much larger scale, quickly, for Bloomberg Next."

The Bloomberg Next product is a simplified and more intuitive version of the standard terminal, and the company expects to migrate most of the rest of its users to the system later this year. Some 113,000 of its 300,000 trader clients already use the system following a rapid four month migration programme, and it says 99 percent of those to try the system have stayed with it.

It insists the price will remain the same as for using the old terminal, and that training is free.

Edwards said that in order to make sure Bloomberg Next was better tailored to users' needs than the existing terminal, the company made "thousands of customer visits and hundreds of developments".

Bloomberg's software developers worked closely with layout designers to create a simple and usable interface, he said.

The search function has been strengthened, and the system also learns traders' usage to give them better answers on any query, he said.

At the event, Bloomberg founder Tom Secunda said the new system was a "step change", because "we used to give you the option to look in different places to find lots of great data, but now we just give you the answers".