If you are looking for accurate bid/ask study data (like delta for example) then you will want a feed which has accurate bid/ask data, and I will leave it to you to research this as there are many topics already on this subject.
If not, most any data feed will do, with the exception that I would not recommend IB data for any application involving volume.
I will comment on this, having used IRT for quite some time, and it is basically identical to MD except for trading capabilities and the footprint.
MarketDelta and IRT have a very nice "language" built-in called "RTL." It is quite nice and easy to use, and does not require programming. It is much preferable to me over software that requires programming to accomplish tasks like this. It's one of the things I really like about IRT.
Sierra has a built-in alerts interface and a Spreadsheet study that also allows for very powerful and relatively easy (though not quite as easy out of the box as RTL in IRT) custom tasks to be done. For example, using a spreadsheet only, I can show alerts when I exceed a maximum loss for the day, and flatten my position automatically. Using the same study and built-in tools with no custom code, I can display the volume at any time during the day as a percentage of the 20 day median. If I recall, these were some of the things I could do in IRT as well using RTL, that was not possible in some software without writing some C.
In Sierra, there are many tools that allow you to "talk" between studies, and there are only 2 studies I have had to write because of a lack of built-in functionality, and these would have had to have been written in code on IRT, except that you can't write code in IRT (at least that used to be the case). Even code that you have to write in Sierra is not that difficult, once you understand the basic components of the API. For example, I wrote code to create a custom menu in Sierra, and without code you can also customize the menu you see on the chart below. I did not like the default display for the previous high/low, so I wrote code that make it look the way I wanted. But even without that, you can still do so much with the built-in studies. Same for IRT, it is very powerful and quite easy to use for many tasks.
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As far as pure volume profiling, I would say that IRT/MD probably are more mature, and they've been doing it a long time. It comes down to what you need for your trading. People seem to want a lot of fancy things. For example, both IRT and Sierra have automatic high/low volume lines. But do you really need that? If so, then that is a consideration, but if not, then why does it matter? At the end of the day, a stable platform that is very fast is important to me. Try a lot of things and take your time with each one, and then go with what works best for you, only you can decide and only you will be paying the bill so get something you like!
Last edited by josh; May 20th, 2013 at 12:20 PM.
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As far as custom indicator, signal scripting, etc. I'll pretty much concur with what josh already said a few posts up. There really hasn't been anything I've wanted done that I haven't been able to pull off by myself with IRT/MD's RTL language, and don't have a spec of programming skill. RTL is also the basis for trading system development and backtesting, so once you understand the basics of RTL, there isn't much you can't do with it. If you do get stuck, an email to support will quickly get you pointed in the right direction, and then some. You can spend weeks on Charthub looking at custom charts, and indicators from IRT/MD, many of which have the definitions posted along with them.
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Trend Is Your Friend,
Thanks for that suggestion as I have not come across that name. Do you have personal experience using WindoTrader? Does it allow the user to write custom indicators and studies? Appreciate your help.
Thanks so much for the comprehensive reply with the example chart. Although it is really a case of "different strokes for different folks", what made you eventually switch from IRT to Sierra? Apart from the trading capabilities, I understand one of the other advantages to Sierra Charts is the ability to run multiple copies on a same or different computer. This opens up the possibility of comparing different data feeds as well as maintaining a redundancy back up trading platform on a laptop. The monthly cost is also an obvious selling point. Appreciate your help.
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For the record, I really like IRT, and I think Dr. Linn and Chad are amazing developers. I have met Dr. Linn and he is a great guy and I have the utmost respect for them and what they have done.
At the time I stopped subscribing, I believe my #1 reason (it has been about a year) was the need for some custom programming (which was not complex at all, but the functionality was not built into IRT). My #2 reason was probably the fact that I really did like having the ability to see positions on the chart, even though I do not actually use the chart to manage those positions. Also, there were a few little bugs and things I consistently had problems with in IRT, like duplicating charts. For example, deleting the lines/drawings on the copy would affect the source, and vice versa. I talked to Chad about it but never could quite get it fixed, and this was kind of important to me. Finally, the cost was just a bit higher than the value I received, relative to other alternatives. Actually, I went back to NT for a few months before going to Sierra, because in NT I had the code programmed that was working for me and I have a lifetime NT license so it was a "free" switch. When I went from NT to Sierra, porting the code took about an hour, so it was a breeze.
For SC users who want to install it on two computers and run simultaneously, this is also a plus. You can run IRT on two computers simultaneously but it costs an additional $20/month for the extra license. You can run SC on two computers simultaneously with just the one license. Actually IRT lets you run multiple copies on the same machine using only one license and you can use different data feeds, so this is a nice feature if you need this with IRT.
The bottom line is that for my needs, Sierra does everything IRT does and more, for a better cost. Both are very good programs, but having the DOM in Sierra and the ability to show positions, and its overall speediness (which is at least as fast as IRT, probably faster, though I can not recall) and reliability, at about half the cost, makes SC the best choice for me.
Again, you really can't go wrong with either program, they are both exceptional. It just comes down to what you personally need.
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Thanks once again for a really well thought out reply. I've been on a Sierra Charts demo for about a week, and must say that I'm taking a liking to it. Not always easy to figure out but it is loaded with functionality and the online documentation is well laid out. My plan is to go month to month and immerse myself further using a proper feed. Currently using IB and will demo both BarChart and DTN IQ because I tend to trade equities rather than futures. I was reviewing a post in the Elite section on feeds and noticed that you tried and liked IQ but eventually settled on a broker feed. Do you have any experience with the BarChart feed? Appreciate your help.
BarChart has a demo feed IIRC, you might want to try it, as I have not and have no experience. But my gut says that for the price, IQFeed, which is maybe only slightly more than barchart, is superior across the board. This is based on the reliability of some of the internals that come through SC for free from barchart (like $TICK)--sometimes they go out for a few minutes, for example. But again, I have not used the actual service, so it may be different than what comes through SC.
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