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Vol.26 No.4

Vol.26 No.4


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Volume 26, No.2

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4xtra Alliance - News

by Chris Hogan (

For those of you who have started reading this issue of Vector by turning to the back cover (I will resist the temptation to make some joke about "isn't that what all APLers do?" - ah I've gone and done it), you might notice the apparent disappearance of HMW Computing as a sustaining member and a "new" one appearing in its place - the 4xtra Alliance. So time for a little explanation.

Firstly, HMW hasn't vanished, but the new arrangement reflects what has actually been happening for several years.

HMW Computing started over 30 years ago, with the somewhat more long winded name of "HMW Programming Consultants". We changed our name to HMW Computing back in the late 80s to show we were (and really always had been) doing more than "mere" programming and that by that time we were primarily supplying 4xtra - a foreign exchange trading system 4X- Tra - rather than being a team of freelance consultants.

Indeed 4xtra continued to be our primary focus for over seventeen years. During that time HMW's personnel line-up changed significantly and the use of 4xtra seemed to go into decline. I'm afraid that although we were pioneers in the field of electronic trading systems, we simply weren't a large enough organization to compete (we thought) when the bigger players moved into the field.

So we were a little surprised when a client came back to us because our APL system could still out perform a new platform written in C++ using a Sybase database. The problem was then to support this client at short notice. So we turned to two former employees of HMW, John Jacob and Phil Last, who by then were running their own companies. The solution was a joint venture between HMW, John Butler Associates and Phil Last Limited to support the client.

This arrangement has adapted to changes so well it has survived the client being taken over, Phil converting to a sole trader and Jake becoming an employee of Optima systems.

Now of course Jake is the editor of Vector, Phil the events officer and I (Chris Hogan) am, for my sins the auditor of the British APL Association, although I do try to help out elsewhere too, if not on the committee.

We have decided that it is finally about time the sustaining membership of the BAA reflects the reality of the way we've been working for the past 14 years. So from now on the membership will be in the name of the 4xtra Alliance, rather than selfishly showing only HMW.

You might also have noticed that 4xtra has a different address than HMW - we thought we had better update our details with another change which happened almost three years ago. Hamilton House, our offices since 1987 was an excellent location when most of our clients were in the City of London and we had anything up to 14 people in the office at once, but proved less so when our clients have become more scattered geographically and most of our work is now done remotely. So in 2011 faced with increasing costs and changes to the terms and conditions of our lease, we sadly vacated the offices which had been our base for 25 years.

Beyond these formalities nothing has changed. Jake, Phil and I still operate as three separate entities, but we assist each other with our APL activities and band together as 4xtra whenever we need more resources and it suits the needs of our clients. So you should be able to see all three of us if you come along to the next BAA London meeting.


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