What is the best approach to actually trade on pancake swap from code? I could not find any resource or guides on how to do so, if its possible at all.
Is there a way to use web3 or any wrapper to use Nodejs and place orders?
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Yes, like with any smart contract, you can call the functions directly from code with tools like web3js.
In the case of pancakeswap, the easiest way is to call the functions on the router such as
swapExactTokensForTokens. Uniswap has a very detailed documentation and pancakeswap is the same as UniswapV2, so you can start from there.
Now if you want to know how to interact with the blockchain from code, that would require a full tutorial and you can find many online.