junior member unable to post in proper space re: Ensign Windows

Discussion in 'Trading Software' started by swingtrader, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. Eight years ago, I purchased my first trading software package. Since then, I have researched and evaluated several of the popular charting products. As I gained skills as a trader, I evolved in my trading software needs as I only trade futures contracts. I am now using my third trading software product, Ensign Windows.

    Every so often, I look at this website to see if there are any new trading products that might help me, and I happened to come across these comments regarding the Ensign product. Since I am an experienced user of Ensign I thought I would share my experience with you. As an Ensign “user” I log on to their site, regularly update Ensign with their updates, and constantly change what I do due to my refined trading strategies and then reflect these refined improvements by continuously learning how implement them by using the Ensign features; and this is what it is all about as a software “user”. This “user” experience takes work to learn how to use Ensign and to make it work properly. But this is also true with any other software that does a lot of work; it takes a commitment of time for the “user” to get educated in the features of the software and its design so the “users” implementation is successful. These comments on this website describing some of Ensign’s shortcomings must be taken in proper context. You must realize that the “quants”, the 24 x 7 electronic futures contracts, and the algorithmic order placement products have added today’s new dimension that one competes in as a proprietary trader. As a trader requires more trading tools that are not COT (commercial-off-the-shelf; or “button pushing only”) and your requirement is to customize, then the complexity introduced into using a trading software product is increased by the order of the complexity of the “users” customized needs. In essence, these traders required sophisticated customized tools and began experiencing the complexities of customizing the software to meet their requirements.

    My conclusion in reviewing trading software during the last couple of years is that if I want to change to another trading platform, then my only choice moving up from Ensign Windows is to purchase an institutional trading product. At this juncture during the financial crisis, some of the independent software vendors (ISV) who have developed institutional trading programs are in serious financial trouble because they are directly tied to their hedge fund clients who are being dissolved. I choose not to have anything to do with such struggling ISVs and to invest tens of thousands of dollars of my funds for such institutional products. I am very glad that Ensign Windows does accomplish the tasks I set it out to perform for my trades, even though it required learning how to use their software and having to communicate with their staff to get the proper education in making it work according to its design.

    The last thing that I will mention is another decision I made that keeps me a user of Ensign. The principal of the company, who is the lead architect and developer of the product, has been intrigued by trading since 1981, or that is at least when his first trading software release was made. Ensign is a very well managed organization with desktop and server technology staff employed in its deliverables. If your needs are within the trading charting software platform industry, then I doubt anyone knows anymore than Ensign regarding the features and needs of traders deploying these functions via software tools. It may take a little effort to learn how to use Ensign to your advantage, but you can do it. I am leveraging Ensign’s twenty seven years of charting function developed for my own self gain, and I do not intend to walk away from this asset.

    Bear in mind that many of Ensign’s customers are just learning how to trade and that often learning traders have limited technical skills because many of these customers are over sixty years old and just did not grow up with Windows XP or a MAC. Of course Ensign must respond to all the daily questions using their front lines such as their online chat and support, email support etc. Truth is that most software organizations require that the “user’s”/customer’s questions/Needs are scoped out into a technical document before the developer can spend his/her time responding. You have to present your technical difficulty in a descriptive fashion that can be specifically addressed. After putting the effort into Ensign Windows I have become extremely good with it and know all its features, functions and how to write flawless DYOs. Most software organizations charge at least a fee of $100 per hour including starting the fees start as soon as the “user” begins describing their technical problem. I know because I was employed at a $1 billion software organization and the Professional Services Division provided this kind of support. Most “users” are clueless as how to scope out a technical issue, but once you have gotten your technical problem to them you will get an answer, and they work with very non-technical people every day and answer their questions. Ensign will even remotely log on to your PC to troubleshoot your issues, and this is one of the greatest advances in helping someone with their PC and software applications.

    I sent this note on October 11, 2008 to Ensign, and I am copying and pasting it to this website after reading the above referenced comments by others:

    “This note is to thank the Ensign staff and Howard Arrington for its great trading technology software product. What I have learned after using this software for more than a year is that it has every possible charting arithmetic function invented and is always at the user’s disposal. This in itself is of great value because as a user gets more sophisticated in profiting from trading then one requires technology that maps out the trader’s mind. The DYOs are Ensign’s technology that lets one map out the trading strategy.

    It does take technical skill to master the use of DYOs which are only acquired from time and practice. An example is being certain that the private and global variables are assigned correct addresses as calculations are made in one window and passed to another window so as to not have any conflict when read and drawn. When variable arrays are done correctly, the Ensign product works flawlessly.

    Just in the last year or two the greatest complication to making my trade calculations comes from the 24X7 electronic symbols. It used to be very easy to pull daily highs and lows from end-of-day daily bars to be used in DYOs, but in some markets these bars no longer exist from floor/pit hours, i.e. Dollar and Sugar. However, with a few quickly made DYOs this data can be pulled from minute bars and passed into the necessary DYO studies to be used in the next day’s trading. After recent DYO calculation verifications I have found the quality of the calculations in Ensign is always precise. I frequently verify the Ensign DYO calculations to other very expensive systems (data feeds and trading software that I have bottom line results from daily subscriptions) or to my own manual calculations to be certain my DYOs are calculating the desired result. It causes great reassurance and confidence to know I am entering into a trade knowing that all my calculations are correct when I used the Ensign product. This is important in these last weeks of extreme volatility and opportunity.

    In addition to showing my gratitude for a sophisticated piece of trading technology I am letting you know that I also tremendously appreciate your rapid response to helping me with my technical questions when I run into trouble that comes from my constant improvement to my trading strategies/calculations and I get technically in over my head, and you are there to help me identify my problem and get me on my way. If I make it through the next few months as a trader, I just want to let you know that I will be calling on you to help me fully automate my DYOs from their semi-automatic state…maybe I will go down the ESPL path, if that is your recommendation.”

  2. yrbium



    Thanks for the detailed comments on your experience with Ensign.

    I was wondering if one of the programs you evaluated was Amibroker, and if so what was your impression of it.

    I am aware that one major difference in terms of support is that Amibroker offers only email support (though it's apparently pretty good).

    You also indicate that you are not programming (ESPL) yet in Ensign, but might start. In this respect from what I know Amibroker support might be better. There is at least one full time third party Amibroker programmer, a book in the works, an extremely active yahoo message board, plus their email support. With Ensign I believe that their telephone line does not provide programming support, and I am not aware of a comparable community for ESPL programming.

    I understand that both programs have very powerful languages. I don't know if one is easier to use than the other.

    I am considering these two programs, and since learning any one is a significant investment in time I am trying to learn as much as I can in advance.

    I would appreciate comments from anybody familiar with the differences in these programs.
  3. YR Bium

    I did look at Amibroker and it looked like a good product. But it seemed to be very stock symbol oriented (if I am remembering right) and I only trade futures contracts. I had a clear idea of what I needed the trading software to do, so I wrote up the details into a technical specification document. After reviewing many of the vendors’ products I sent my specification to my short list of vendors. You can measure and gauge many things when you do that. You can get “no response” so that lets you know not to waste your time or money on those organizations. I got several responses that said they were unable to perform the functions I wanted (which I was surprised because what I do is common and simple) or they might consider developing the application in their technology, so I knew better than to go that route. Ensign claimed they could do what I want, and they were correct. Ensign does do what I set out to do with it.

    I am not the right person to inform you about Amibroker. Regarding ESPL I am certain that Ensign provides a lot of support and they do have a direct website for such. I am not a programmer, but I do undertand a few things about it. ESPL is a scripting language (not object oriented like C++) so if you have skills there then it should be easy for you. If you do not have programming skills then Ensign DYO is a tremendous feature in Ensign for you to use. It is programming but simplified. It lets you do just about any customization you need yet you do not need to know a programming language; quite an asset if you take advantage of it.