Great Software Platform and Competent Cheap Broker
I have used Tradestation for about 18 months, and I really like their software platform. I started with eTrade, spent several months with eTrade, but as soon as I went to Tradestation, I barely ever look at eTrade.
First about the software platform:
I tried think or swim, and couldn't figure it out, it was trying to be "too hip". But Tradestation is a conventional Windows application.
(Sorry Mac and Linux users, you'll need something like VMware Fusion to run it).
If you are familiar with Windows programs in general, Tradestation is easy to use. It has a wealth of indicators, flexible ability to arrange chart windows, ability to customize almost every setting.
Papertrading made easy:
You can run the software in simulation mode. Everything works just like real. All the skill you gain will transfer to your real trading when you start using real money.
You decide how much money to start with, and it tracks full order history, statistics, everything like as if it was a real trading account.
This mode is especially cool for testing of strategies without risking real money. And developing new add-ons for the platform.
The big plus of tradestation is the ability to write code to describe your own indicators, and your own trading strategies, and then back test the strategies, and even have the platform totally automate your trading. This is very powerful, a very sharp two edged sword.
The strategies and indicators are written in a simple language called EasyLanguage. It is a lot like Basic with special extensions for stock trading.
The algorithms you write can be run against daily data, minute by minute data, even 6 months of tick-by-tick data. You decide.
Tradestation comes with a wealth of indicators and strategies, and you can examine the code for any of them. This can really help you develop your programming skills.
Programs can also be written for Tradestation that are protected, so others can load the program, but they can't see your code. Many third party addons are sold with this protection. They usually want to know your "network number", so they can lock your copy of their program to your copy of Tradestation.
As a broker:
Their commissions are cheap, just a $1 to trade 100 shares. Way better than eTrade!
I have only needed to call Tradestation maybe twice since I have this account. Once they didn't seem to reset my PDT margin properly, but a couple of phone calls, and 20 minutes on hold, and they found a manager to reset the numbers.
Usually when trading Timothy Sykes picks, I only trade things that are easy to borrow, I dont go through a lot of ritual to locate hard to borrow stuff. If I can short it with a click, great, if not, I look for some other stock to trade.... I've only called Tradestation once to short a hard to borrow stock, but within minutes they had me in shares of a hard to borrow stock that no one else in the Tim Alerts chatroom could find. The shares magically appeared in my position within the software platform.
There are excellent discussion forums covering all aspects of the software, and strategy development. There are lots of programs that you can download and add to your tradestation.
Can't trade OTCBB or Pink Sheets stocks with Tradestation's interface. So I dont even try about half of Tims trades. I look over his OTCBB picks for learning, but I stick with NASDAQ, NASDA, NYSE, etc. You can do all possible technical analysis and scans and screens and news and everything else on OTCBB or Pink Sheets, just no actual trading. I am not sure if the simulation software can simulate trading them, I have never bothered since I can't actually let the strategy run in automated mode to do actual trading.
I believe it may be possible to phone in OTCBB trades to Tradestation, but again, I would rather do everything with a point and click, not bother with phone calls.
Debugging of the Easylanguage programs is very tedious and primitive. Basically the only debugging available is print statements to a log. Very circa 1983....
I have found occassional glitches in the software, but for general trading, I am very happy with it, I cant think of the last time a glitch affected my actual daily trading. Usually the glitches are fairly esoteric.
The platform is stable. i have maybe one crash every week or two, but usually that is on a day when my computer has been up for several days, and maybe I'm running a lot of other things at the same time.
While the backtesting is really cool to see how well a given algorithm could trade, there is no ability to replay market data to practice manual trading.
The backtesting can only test a single stock at a time. You can not run two different backtests at the same time. Combined with the inability to trade more than one stock with a given strategy on a chart, this makes it very tedious to test a strategy against a list of stocks. There is no way to combine the backtest results from a list of stocks to get overall profitability..... all that being said, there is a powerful macro library in addition to easylanguage. The macro library i think can simulate any manual menu selection you might make, and i think there is a third party library that might be able to handle running a series of backtests automatically.
The automated trading strategies can only handle trading a single stock per chart. Strategies are always attached to a particular chart, and the chart can contain multiple symbols and indicators, and the strategy can access any of them. But it can only trade on the first symbol in the chart. This makes it not possible to have a single instance of the strategy watching a basket of stocks. However, you can open multiple charts, one for each stock you want to track, and attach a strategy to each, and Tradestation will then automate the strategy in each of those charts. In this way, I have setup as many as 36 stocks automatically trading according to a strategy. Compare that to Tim's trading style of one trade at a time, and it is like "Crank!" compared to "Driving Miss Daisy".
More of my thoughts about Tradestation, examples of how I use TradeStation, and Tradestation Resources: http://www.bobsgear.com/display/stocks/Review+of+Tradestation+After+18+Months+of+Use
This review is the subjective opinion of an Investimonials member and not of Investimonials LLC
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