Tradestation Users - Newbie Question

Discussion in 'Automated Trading' started by smili, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. smili


    Hi, I'm interested in beginning to learn automated trading and it seems like Tradestation is a painfree/popular way to go. I'll be looking to trade equities.

    My concern as I look through fees is that I am just starting out w/ automated trading and currently don't have systems to trade, and based on reading these threads I'm certain it'll take me quite a while to work out/test / build systems that are profitable and worth running. (I have full time job so this will be an after-hours pursuit for me). If I read correctly it'll cost me $99.95 per month for the Tradestation Platform.

    I've tried to get to Tradestation forums but they seem blocked to outsiders, but if there are users here I'd appreciate direction.

    - Is the $99.95 a month + feeds just the cost of education while I'm getting my process up and running? Or are there better ways to backtest several ideas to get something closer to functional before starting w/ monthly fees?
    - I do find the backtesting important as I am unable to test strategies in real time due to my job. The ultimate automation of Tradestation is very appealing in this regard for when I want to turn a program on in small scale in real time.
    - I'm not necessarily looking to build day/trade programs initially - slower moving swing trade programs would be fine if they work for starting out - it's more in line with what I'm doing right now and I think I'd be most comfortable with that just to start out. - gradually moving to more frequency as I get comfortable w/ coding and the platform.
    - I did some basic computer programming in college, so I understand the concepts and can follow code, but I'm no expert. (Pascal, Fortran, C). At work I use Visual Basic a little bit, but again, nothing too complicated. The easylanguage in Tradestation sounds like it's not too bad to learn so that also seems a + to me.

    I'm fine with looking at some other platforms as long as things are easy to work with. I've heard suggestions of tradelink, amibroker, and cooltrade but it sounds as if I'd need to get more involved under the hood of the programs to do the backtesting and connected to my brokers. (I do have another account at MB Trading right now that some of the other options link to). Any suggestions pro or con are appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance for replies
  2. Too expensive route IMO and it depends what you want to trade.

    In your position I would postpone automation for down the road. Learning to walk before learning to fly is a good idea. For stocks I would open an account with any of those companies that offer free ETF trading. I would get the inexpensive but powerful Amibroker or something along the lines to start developing systems. Commission do not matter at this point as most lose much more to learn. Ameritrade with QuoteTracker is a good beginner choice.

    Also keep in mind that backtesting cannot be compared to real testing. Backtesting is a method of filtering bad system. It cannot tell you if a system will be profitable in the future. Real trading is the process of verifying system performance. If you use real trading for filtering you will go broke.

    The most important aspect of trading after you have a profitable method is risk and money management. There is plenty of information available for free that you should read over and over again before risking a single dime. Here are some examples:

    Automation is good only if someone understands well risk and position management.
  3. I would say first off read up on what intradaybill suggested.

    also look up ET poster Acrary. both intradaybill and acrary are great minds for mechanical trading.

    I think in about six months you would be ready to learn by doing. Then open and fund a TS account, both platform and commissions are free for the first few months. data fees for equities are nominal for non-pros.
  4. bstay


    if u can trade on the account, then the $99.95/mth platform fee is waived if u meet the volume criteria (check website for details). the inhouse forum has extensive knowledge going back several years and EasyLanguage engineers and analysts are there to help you with the programming, as well as experienced users contributing to the discussion threads. if u can trade, meeting the monthly waiver criteria is not difficult.
  5. smili


    thanks for the links on money management.

    lescor on another thread also recommends Van Tharpe's book. I have it on the way in the mail.
  6. smili


    thanks bstay, Yeah, once I'm up and running I don't have issue with the 5000 shr/mo requirement. I just looked at another account I have at Zecco in the past 30 days I traded 2700shr without any automated program and using longer holding times, so 5000 shr seems not that difficult once a process is designed.

    It's that in-between stage of building shorter-term processes that seems difficult as I'm not available during mkt hours. I can check in occassionally in the day at work if I have a trade I've decided on the prior night, but I can't really scan the market while things are going live.

    I'm checking out amibroker as suggested above - is ita concensus good program to program intraday? for testing equities w/ intraday data is there a preferred vendor? I noticed the historical intraday data itself seems pricey in many cases, and alot of traders seem to indicate alot of the backtesting data isn't very good anyway.

    I also have Scottrade accts (retirement mostly) and their elite-trader platform had a version of Trade Ideas, but it sounds like only 15 days of backtest, but if I'm reading correctly it does offer the option to simulate in live market condition.
  7. bstay


    does your strategy work on forex? forex is 24hrs and you can design or monitor your automated strategies realtime after working hours when u come home. i don't understand the circular logic so if you want to use TradeStation, then you have to open account and start learning EasyLanguage scripting. the longer you ask around the longer it will delay ...... if you don't open the account then you don't have access to the platform to learn EasyLanguage. quite simple actually.

    TradeStation has historical data and backtesting capability. you don't need to sit in front of a moving live market to code right? and switching between live and simulated account is quite easy so you can test your strategies realtime (on simulator) while u are at work. the performance testing and analysis reports will help to evaluate your scripts.
  8. Would you happen to have a name for that book or a link to the thread?

  9. smili


    No forex. I have no understanding of those markets.

    that's essentially why I'm posting regarding alternatives that aren't dead ends wrt automation. It seems like Tradestation is where I will likely end up, but checking other possible alternatives. I've read enough here on ET to know that I'll probably fail anyway, and if I jump in too fast I'm almost assured to fail. I'm literally 4 days into my Christmas break looking into this.

    - Ninjatrader appears one option w/ backtest that some are using automated in live environment.

    -It sounds like Amibroker is powerful backtester working on it w/ IB automation, but in early stages, not robust. Portfolio testing is appealing and I understand Tradestation does not do that. (I very much like the idea of sorting equities into uptrenders, sidetrenders, and downtrenders and treating those portfolios differently) Going this way will likely give me lots of ideas but ability to take them live may be more difficult. Still might be worth it.

    You may be right. I might need to scrap together my 30K and plan to trade the differently at TS using my current swing/position trading and try to get 5000shr per mo until the other systems are ready to come on-line after testing through sim like you mention. Heck, it's only $50 per trading per month on their commission scale

    bstay, if I may ask based on your familiarity - part of the ideas I have for trading involve first and second derivatives of price action - first derivatives: the changing slopes of the price action and second derivatives: acceleration and deceleration. I've worked with these some in XLS and it seems there are certain realms where it is "safer" than others based on combinations of these characteristics. From what you know of easylanguage are these "rates of change" calculations supported (like a tangent to an Simple moving average curve?) (the ability to compare say MA10 now vs. MA10 1 period ago, 2 period ago, etc?)
  10. smili


    It's cheap on Amazon used. It's called
    1 "Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom"
    Van K. Tharp
    #10     Dec 21, 2010