I’ve been debating purchasing a trading software package for quite some time now. In that time, I have reviewed a number of different options. In my experience, the most frequently recommended packages were Amibroker and NinjaTrader. Both seem perfectly capable of handling the simple systems I am going to learn how to program, and both are reasonably priced.
I decided to go with NinjaTrader because, from what I understand, it is completely free to experiment, learn, and backtest on. You do not have to upgrade to the paid version until you are ready to trade live. This will give me plenty of time to learn at my own pace. It should also allow me to paper trade each of the portfolios in my Simple Systems Experiment. After learning to program and backtest systems, I expect to be fully confident in what I am doing when it finally comes time to actually pay for the software.
Another reason that I like NinjaTrader’s free demo model is that anyone who reads this can download it and follow along in the process. While the couple hundred dollars to purchase Amibroker is not a great deal of money, NinjaTrader allows literally anyone to learn right along with me.
Can I Get It On My MacBook?
I spend a good chunk of my day today attempting to locate a cheap way to run NinjaTrader on my MacBook. I found a few sites that people had recommended through message boards, but nothing that looked easy enough for me to want to attempt. I am slightly paranoid about installing something that screws up my MacBook, so I thought it would be better to leave it along, for now at least.
If anyone has experience installing NinjaTrader on OSX, I would love some help in this department. I am looking for an cheap, or preferably free, way to do this so that it does not exclude anyone from tagging along.
For the time being, I have installed NinjaTrader on my Windows computers both at work and home. While this isn’t an ideal working scenario, it will be more than adequate for now.
Loading Market Data
After installing NinjaTrader, I was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a whole lot that happened. The software opened to a big, empty, gray screen and there were only three options on the toolbar. The whole thing seemed rather underwhelming, which was good, because I am extremely intimidated by this project.
From my previous experience with the Amibroker trial, I was aware that I could obtain free market data from Yahoo. Since this was something I was able to make work before, I decided that would be a good approach here as well.
In the help file, I was able to find what was called a “Connections Guide” that gave a walkthrough for connecting the software to a number of different data sources. I chose the Yahoo guide and followed it step by step. There was not a whole lot of steps, and most of the options I needed to set were defaults. After everything seemed to be set right, I hit “OK” and the software made a “ding” sound. Then it went right back to the plain gray screen.
Loading A Chart
At this point, I was pretty much clueless as to what I should do next. I watched a YouTube video that walked me through the process of loading a chart and putting a few indicators on it. Looking back, this is actually pretty simple to do.
You can load a chart easily by going to File > New > Chart. From this screen, you just type in the symbol of the chart you want. You can select a number of options about the chart, and then load it by hitting “OK.”
Once it is loaded, you can right click on the chart and select “Indicators,” which will take you to a menu where you can add any number of indicators. I loaded a chart of SPY and added a bunch of different SMAs.
My Next Steps
I’m going to attempt to use NinjaTrader to do my review for my Simple Systems Experiment post this weekend. That will at least keep me friendly with the charting aspect of the software.
I also expect to watch a few more tutorial videos this week. To be honest, I don’t even know what the next step is right now, but I know where I want to end up. Luckily for me, there are tons of videos on YouTube that appear to be very helpful.
If you’re interested in learning right along with me, it certainly isn’t too late. Sign up for your free demo copy of NinjaTrader and let me know what you think.