Review by G.C. California USA, uploaded February 17th, 2008.
Covers version 8.3
TradeStation is a large program with a lot of features, so many I don’t use them all.
I first took a trial of TradeStation because of the advertised automated trading feature, and was quite disappointed to find I had to become a very skilled programmer to be able to automate anything but the most simple strategy. Not that the capability isn’t there mind you, but be prepared to spent a LOT of time to become proficient. After 3 years using this platform, I don’t use this feature! Although one day…
The charting side is quite flexible, although if your needs extend beyond using the supplied canned indicator set, be prepared to take the time to become proficient in the EasyLanguage code. To be fair, most chart packages would require time to learn their indicator programming language. It is disappointing to see a lack of support for Range bars. These are popular with the Woodies cci traders. Another deficiency is the lack of support for bars of less than 1 minute, although they do have Tick and Volume bars. Candlesticks are ugly in TradeStation as they don’t have outlines.
Users should be aware that for normal use, TradeStation requires to be logged in to the internet to access data, even for daily bars. I have never found that a problem, but don’t expect to do your end of day analysis while in the airport or coffee shop unless they have wireless access.
I recommend the user Forum as a wealth of information where new users can find answers to problems, get access to a vast library of indicators produced by other users over the years, and even superior traders and indicator programmers get to discuss ideas amongst each other while everyone else can read and learn. I learned a lot about trading, programming the indicators and strategy ideas just reading the posts there.
TradeStation has add on features for option trading called OptionStation, and a quotes and scanning tool called RadarScreen as well as the strategy testing feature. They all seem comprehensive, however I am not using them on an ongoing basis, so will not comment further on them here.
I was disappointed to find we had to open a completely separate account to trade Forex. The data stream also had several outages in the few months I used it, and I eventually went back to trading currency futures instead since I couldn’t find any real advantage of sticking to the cash forex market unless you want to trade really large size, but in that case I believe you can get better platforms that link directly to the banks anyway rather than to a retail brokerage.
TradeStation does not pay interest on broker account balances. This puts them at a disadvantage to some of the industry leaders.
TradeStation has a free 30 day trial, and if you are considering this package I recommend using that to get a feel for the program. The monthly fee is very competitive covering both the cost of the program, upgrades and data (not exchange fees of course), AND if you trade a very reasonable quantity using the TradeStation brokerage, your monthly user fee can be fully rebated, making your only cost the exchange fees (over which they have little control), and therefore making TradeStation one of the cheapest pieces of comprehensive trading software on the market.
While the order entry is adequate, I find another order entry package to be more my style, and again I don’t use this feature in TradeStation.
Data supply is generally similar to other suppliers in the industry, although I feel there are some holes in the range of choice that could be filled. Most users will find most of what they need.
The support staff work hard to do a good job. Although my personal opinion is that they are hampered in their efforts by what seems to be a management policy to tell users as little as possible about any problems. The user forum has a user requested features area with a voting system. It is extremely frustrating to see some of the most highly requested features almost totally ignored by management for years. The web site has a data status page that in three years I have never seen it showing a data outage, even while I am in the middle of one. Do we get some notice of due dates for bug fixes and new feature introduction? not any place I’m looking.
Overall, most users will find TradeStation a good ‘value for money’ multi purpose trading package, although several deficiencies mentioned prevent it being called Great.