Professional grade Charting software - how to find good retail charting software

Discussion in 'Trading Software' started by velshin, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. velshin


    This post is about professional grade / pro charting software. Below I'll list all of the software I've looked at, what I've dismissed, and what I am still considering. I hope that this post can save others some time.

    Thanks to PR and marketing efforts on behalf of the software vendors, the ratings section of EliteTrader is nearly useless. Half the posts in the ratings area appear to be marketing spam.

    I've read hundreds of Elitetrader forum posts about charting software, spanning the past 3 years or so. It's interesting to see that some traders' favorites from 2004 and 2005 are now defunct, while others that were previously lacking (ESignal, AmiBroker) have become favorites.

    I've previously worked at investment banks . Most of the "retail" software that I've looked at recently is a joke compared to the custom, in-house software at an investment bank that real traders use in conjunction with Bloomberg / Reuters. It's no wonder you see some snide remarks like "this retail software is a toy." Most are.

    In my searching for pro level charting I have some simple criteria:

    - Equities charting and technical analysis
    - Easy to use
    - Not buggy
    - No cpu slaughter. Doesn't max the cpu on high volume of market data / fast markets.
    - Charting at least as good as TD Ameritrade's StrategyDesk, with better real time charting
    - Alerts w/ sounds for price data AND for indicators like MACD cross overs. This is usually called alerts on indicators or alerts on studies. I don't want to write code to get this to work!
    - Composite alerts on indicators, e.g. positive MACD cross over and volume > 50000 for time period 5 mins
    - Customizable layout. Easy to maximize screen real estate
    - Easy to mark up the charts and save/restore the analysis
    - Uses a real time market data feed from IB or DTN.IQ. No vendor lock-in to a single feed.
    - Reasonable price
    - A demo or at least detailed screenshots would be nice

    I've seen a lot of these threads turn into a pissing contest of one sort or another, particularly when people complain about IB not offering solid charting. This isn't all that informative, so even if I've eliminated your favorite charting software, just tell us why you continue to use it and post a screenshot.

    _____ Eliminated:

    Sierra Charts

    _____ Eliminated with notes:

    Ensign - It seems that they haven't rewritten their UI since 1999. It's difficult to use compared to other offerings. Though alerts can be set on studies, it's troublesome to do what I described above.

    QuoteTracker - This is tops in price / performance and is vaguely like pro charting software. It's missing alerts on indicators (you only get price/volume and a few others). It's been acquired by TD Ameritrade so its future with non Ameritrade feeds is questionable. It's easy to use, though manual backfill is tiresome. I'll probably continue to use it since I have TD Ameritrade and QT is mostly just lacking features.

    AmiBroker - The UI is clunky, marking up charts is very tedious since it doesn't remember the last tool (e.g. trend line drawing) so you constantly have to set the drawing tool after each mark up. The EasyAlerts aren't that easy or flexible and the advanced alerts require scripting.

    ____ In the running:

    TradeStation - Can't talk to IB. Very mixed reviews.

    TradeSignal - Slick offering from a German company. Very ugly scripting language. No easy way to set alerts on indicators. (Though their wiki claims otherwise.)

    Esignal - With the "avanced charting" package meets most of the criteria above.

    MetaStock / MetaQuotes - Reportedly they've gone downhill since being acquired by Reuters. Without a demo it's hard to tell how good MS would be.

    TD Ameritrade StrategyDesk - This was an acquired product that they offer Apex clients. It's slick but it only works with Ameritrade's feed. In its alerts, it doesn't have intraday volume (despite the fact that you can see the intraday volume in the charts). It maxes the CPU often and if there's high volume / fast market you can forget about using it.

    MetaTrader - Good but for forex and features.

    CQG - No demo. No pricing info on their site. Mostly good reviews.

    Overall I'm very disappointed with the retail "toys". Many sell for exorbitant prices and still don't cut it. The pro level retail offerings also seem lacking. I'm surprised how much better the tools are at an investment bank than what you can buy from the "outside."

    If anyone has suggestions for software that I missed, please chime in. If you can give me more information on the ones in the running, please do!

    Thanks to all the EliteTrader posters -- this site is an awesome resource for traders!

  2. velshin


    QuoteTracker - This is tops in price / performance and is vaguely like pro charting software. Its mark up is weak so it's unpleasant to draw on extensively. The values for indicators are hard to determine. It has alerts on indicators called Paint Bars but they're hard to use. QT has been acquired by TD Ameritrade so its future with non Ameritrade feeds is questionable. It's easy to use the charts and quotes, though manual backfill is tiresome.
  3. I have been using investor rt. You can use it with IB feed. I mainly got it for designing my own indicators. You don't have to be a programmer to use the language they have, which is very intuitive. The code for the platform is very easy on the cpu also, even when analyzing large lists of stocks through indicators.
  4. Tums


    Professionals do not use retail software.
  5. Tums


    hooking a professional grade software to IB datafeed ? mmm...
  6. velshin


    So what do the pros that aren't working at investment banks use? Reuters / Bloomberg feed, maybe DTN.IQ or feed...

    What charting software then?
  7. Check for reviews for TS 8.3, which came out this past summer. I've never used TS, but I've heard good things about 8.3 from those who use it.

    Shame it doesn't work with IB though.
  8. I know of a bank that bought 1200 packages TS2000i when that came out years ago. TS is to me the best product, and if you do a couple of trades a month with them as a broker, they are ontop of that the cheapest product available, because is will be for free.

    It's logic that TS cannot be linked to IB; why help a competitor to compete with you? TS has a brokerage service.
    TS has had a same kind of "war" with Esignal years ago.
  9. tortoise


    Multicharts meets your criteria. Now with the latest "official" release, v 2.1, it is as stable as anything out there, and faster than its competitors, so far as I can tell.

    I don't work for MultiCharts and benefit not a whit from plugging them. I just use the software and find it marvelous.
  10. Try Neo Ticker by Tick-quest.

    #10     Sep 23, 2007