MQL4 is a powerful programming language used for creating custom indicators, expert advisors, and scripts in the MetaTrader 4 platform. While the executable files are all that’s necessary to use an EA or indicator, traders may want to access the original source code in MQ4 format for various reasons. That’s where decompiling comes in. In this article, we’ll explore the process of decompiling an EX4 file to MQ4 format, when to use decompiling, and some tips for using decompiling tools responsibly and ethically.
What is Decompiling?
Decompiling is the process of converting a compiled binary file, like an EX4 file, back into its original source code. The resulting code may not be perfect, but it can still be useful for gaining insights into how a particular indicator or expert advisor works.
MQL4 and EX4/MQ4 Formats
MQL4 is a programming language used for creating custom indicators, expert advisors, and scripts in the MetaTrader 4 platform. MQL4 code is compiled into EX4 format, which is the machine-readable format that is executed by the MetaTrader 4 platform. There are two file formats in MetaTrader 4: ‘.ex4’ for the executable files and ‘.mq4’ for the source code. The MT4 platform only uses the executable files, so only these files are necessary to use an EA, an indicator, or any other MT4 program. The source code is only used by a programmer to make corrections, adjustments, modifications, or improvements in the MT4 program.
When to Use Decompiling
Traders may want to decompile an EX4 file into MQ4 format for various reasons, such as modifying the code or understanding how a particular expert advisor or indicator works. Common reasons include modifying, correcting, or improving an MT4 program, recovering a lost source code, learning MQL4 programming, or converting an MT4 program to MT5.
Using a Decompiler Tool
To decompile an EX4 file to MQ4 format, traders need to use a decompiler tool. There are several decompiling tools available online, but it’s important to choose a reliable and trustworthy one to ensure the safety of your computer and the quality of the resulting code. However, it’s important to note that decompiling can violate MetaQuotes Software Corp‘s copyrighted works and intellectual property, so it’s important to use decompiling tools for legal and ethical purposes only.
Traders don’t need the source code (mq4 file) to build an MT4 Expert Advisor (EA) based on an indicator. In fact, an MT4 EA only uses the compiled file (ex4 extension). Additionally, a skilled MT4 programmer can develop a new indicator that gets the signals from the original indicator and sends alerts and notifications whenever a signal is triggered, even without the mq4 file.
Decompiling an EX4 file into MQ4 format can be a useful tool for traders who want to modify or understand the inner workings of a particular expert advisor or indicator. However, traders should use decompiling tools for legal and ethical purposes only, and they should be aware that decompiling may not always produce perfect or readable code. It’s also important to have a good understanding of programming principles to be able to make sense of the decompiled code. By using decompiling tools responsibly and with caution, traders can gain valuable insights into their MT4 programs and improve their trading strategies.