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toolpack for tradestation?

Guy -- ToolPack is the only thing keeping me with eSignal right now and, in the wake of their recent price increase, I'm not sure I can force myself to stay there much longer. TradeStation's looking mighty appealing, charting-wise, particularly in light of the very low account activity thresholds required to secure their platform without additional cost. Seems like a lot of folks are thinking the same way I'm thinking. Any chance you might consider developing TS versions of your offerings? Cheers, Peter
Hi Peter,
I would love to be able to provide ToolPack on all the charting platforms out there. TradeStation would be the next obvious one. There are a number of things that I need to consider before I do something like that:
1. Does TradeStation's EasyLanguage have all the features that JavaScript has? i.e. Is it possible to convert all the code?
2. How long will it take me to learn EasyLanguage?
3. How long will it take to convert each of the studies? (Some of the studies have thousands of lines of code and fairly complex logic.)
4. How good is the encryption on TradeStation now?

The last point is the reason why I originally abandoned TradeStation . The encryption of the code was being hacked by a few people. This also applied to previous (7.8 and earlier) versions of eSignal. I don't know if TradeStation have improved their encryption yet (eSignal have) and if so what sort of guarantee they can give over it?

The time to do a feasibility study is fairly big...

Would it be possible for you to give me a side-by-side comparison of costs of eSignal and TradeStation for a typical E-Mini trader so that I can see what is involved and have a better understanding?

Hi Guy --

Delighted to hear you'll consider this. TS puts forward a very appealing offer: Ten e-mini r/ts and the platform is free. You pay for the data -- basic CME e-mini fees run $20/month or so -- but given that the eSignal premier with essentially the same data will run you about $140/month and the attractiveness of this arrangement becomes apparent. (TS commissions are also quite low. Fewer than 300 rts/month will run you $2.36 a side, so they're not gouging you on the trades by way of making you pay for the platform. As brokers go, they're middling, but they're fine as a back-up -- certainly fine for 10 cars/month -- and, who knows, they might get their act together on the brokerage front as well, in which case they'll take over the planet.)

I had been concerned about TS's data integrity compared to eSignal's, as this has always been eSignal's strong suit, but I'm gradually coming to think that this is not an issue. Not only does TS appear to take the matter quite seriously -- beefing up their network, etc. -- but anyone watching eSignal's performace, say, during this week's FOMC festivities would liklely walk away quite underwhelmed (the data lags were unbelieveable -- thank heaven for my IB feed, which is, by the way, free.)

As far as encryption issues are concerned -- well, here I am out of my depth. My understanding is that the latest TS build is light-years from earlier versions is this regard -- certainly the equal of eSignal's latest -- but you're in a better position to evaluate this matter.

Again, very happy to hear that TS is on your radar screen. For simplicity's sake -- and as way of "field-testing" these issues -- might you consider an initial foray with Tool-Pack, which, I imagine, would be the easiest to program?

Keep us posted on your considerations. Cheers, Peter
I just read this today about eSignal's problems from last week:
Shortly after the latest Fed Announcement (1:17 pm ET on 12/13/05), the amount of trading dramatically spiked. While volume spikes are routine and expected, especially after major announcements, this surge caused one of our applications to partially fail. Due to the spike of transactions, our primary system for US Futures failed to keep up with the trading activity, thereby impacting the data output. Once the application stabilized and the CPU began to cycle again, the last data received went out in bursts with, in some cases, time stamps revealing 3 and 4 minutes late. Because this was an application and, to a lesser degree, a system resource issue, we were not able to resolve the problem until the volume declined, which was roughly 30 minutes after the initial spike.

On the positive side, we had already identified that our primary systems were trending toward high CPU usage and we have modified and enhanced the application processing our US Futures feed. As a part of our Capacity Planning Analysis, we ordered 4 new systems with quad processors and at least double the CPU horsepower of the older machines. From our analysis thus far, we feel these newer systems would have handled today's spike without any interruption. The new systems were installed over the weekend and will be configured and tested over the next 2 to 3 weeks. Also based on today's experience, we have isolated several other areas where performance can be improved and that work will begin immediately. Once the new systems are online, we are extremely confident that our systems will handle even larger spikes in activity in the future.

We realize that our customers rely on us for quality and timely data so we sincerely apologize that our systems didn't deliver to our typical high standard. As outlined above, we have already taken aggressive steps to improve our network infrastructure and restore our customers confidence in our service.
The good news is that eSignal are beefing up their systems.

The bad news is that eSignal appear to be implementing "management by chaos" - i.e. waiting for a problem to show up and then fixing it. If you look at the volume on the fed day in question compared to the previous fed day you can see that volume was similar and if their machines were near breaking point then they should have added more capacity then and not now.

So although this is a good fix now and I'm sure that these new machines that eSignal have installed will handle the capacity for the next year, I fear that the same will happen when volumes start hitting new highs and they don't add capacity in time.

You also have to look at the same management issue at TradeStation. How much spare capacity do they have to handle the peaks? Are their machines near breaking point as well? It's very unlikely that we would get such a candid response from TradeStation as we have from eSignal.

I've noticed that day traders tend to vacilate between TradeStation and eSignal and at the moment eSignal is out of favor and so everyone wants to move to TradeStation.

The problem with converting ToolPack is the DVATool. It literally has thousands of lines of code. I'm guessing that all in, the ToolPack probably has 10,000 lines of code that would need to be converted. So this is not a trivial consideration.

Well, I guess ignorance is bliss. I had no idea of the complexity behind DVA, although now that I stop to think about it, that makes sense.

You raise excellent questions about the robustness of the TS network as compared to eSignal. They say they have been investing in network upgrades, etc., but whether their efforts are sufficient, only time will tell.

This "x" factor, for me, reenforces the importance of having a data-feed backup. While eSignal went haywire the other day, IB managed without a hiccup. I'm sure there have been days when the opposite has been true. But eSignal's latest round of price-increases, while comparatively minor in the scheme of things, do smack of price-gouging -- or, at least, a deliberate price-elasticity test, probing to see how many of their clients will bother to go through the trouble of switching, perhaps as the prelude to further increases. I find this sort of thing a bit offensive -- particularly in light of justification for the increases on cost-grounds which are almost certainly concocted -- although it is, of course, eSignal's right.

I might be inclined to think I just need a vacation or something (which is true) and leave it at that, but then TS's price structure, in the context of eSignal's -- I dunno, "arrogance" is probably too strong, but the appropriate noun escapes me at the moment -- makes TS hard to overlook at the moment. After all, their charting is legendary and I'm not hearing complaints about their data reliability, at least not the moment.

I dunno, Guy. A lot of reasons to just stay put -- ToolPack high (or highest) among them. But still...
I think that TradeStation has a better and fairer pricing model. TradeStation are making their money through commissions and so the charting service charges are shifted to the consumers with the greatest throughput and by implication the best usage of the service.

Ninja Trader has added charting to their trading platform and although they are still developing and adding indicators to it they are also a good backup should the eSignal price servers slow down.

You are 100% correct about having a backup and having a trading platform like IB or Ninja which has free data/charts as part of the trading platform is an excellent backup system.

eSignal have used their independence of any broker as a marketing tool but I don't think that anybody cares for that and I think that it would be well worth their while to investigate the pricing model that TradeStation uses and merge with a brokerage. If they don't want to merge then I'm sure that arrangements can be made with brokerages to subsidize part of the charting platform fees for traders... however, now we're going into an area with a ton more regulation and all sorts of legal angles that need to be considered.

I'm not happy with the eSignal price hikes either...

Hey Guy -- Well, after a week at TS 8.1 all I can say is...I really miss ToolPack. So far as I can see, there is nothing in the gigantic galaxy of TS stuff that does what ToolPack does.

Cheers, Peter
Originally posted by poster

Hey Guy -- Well, after a week at TS 8.1 all I can say is...I really miss ToolPack. So far as I can see, there is nothing in the gigantic galaxy of TS stuff that does what ToolPack does.

Cheers, Peter

Hey Peter,
I'm really sorry that I am unable (at the moment) to translate ToolPack to TradeStation. A friend has asked me to translate some stuff from TradeStation to eSignal which I've been doing but my knowledge of EasyLanguage is sketchy at the moment. The problem is the DVATool. There is fairly complex logic in that which calculates the singles and draws the single lines which could take me days to work out how to do that in EasyLanguage.
I promise that if I get the chance to translate it - you'll be the second to know about it.

I totally understand. Just, FYI, I'm finding reason to believe that you will find a market for it. (Beyond me, that is...