A couple of weeks ago I downloaded Amibroker to see if it could compute the e-ratio much faster than TradersStudio (it did!). The result of the speed comparison is there and the Amibroker code for the e-ratio is there.
I thought it might be interesting to do a comparison of how easy it is to get on with both platforms as a new user.
Software and manuals
You can download a fully-functioning Amibroker demo (you cannot with TraderStudio and even when you buy it you have to wait for CDs by post!) which contains some limitations (i.e no more than 5 markets back-tested at a time, etc.).
The manuals are all online and very thorough, complemented with additional articles, presentations and other materials. This makes it very handy (again compared to TradersStudio printed 300 page manual – yet incomplete) as you can search them electronically to look for exactly what you need.
The Amibroker community seems much wider and as a result there is loads of available scripts for re-use. There is actually a whole library hosted on amibroker website.
There is also much, much more information available on the internet. As a sample test I googled “Amibroker Donchian” vs. “TradersStudio Donchian”: 23,200 results vs. 17 (including this blog!).
Finally the yahoo group is much more active. There are about 10 times more daily messages (although the TradersStudio one can go days without getting a single message). As an example I posted a question related to the custom backtester and got a useful answer the next day.
It takes a bit of time to get used to the concept and principles of Amibroker. It is quite different from TradersStudio. For example, all afl files are self-contained and might implement indicator, system, back-test procedure, scan and exploration code all at once (although only one part really runs at once – alightly confusing at first). In TradersStudio you can also define functions to be called in other code files; this does not appear possible in Amibroker (you would have to copy/paste the code over and over again). Both platforms allow you to build COM dlls to code up your functions.
The GUI is different but I would not say better or worse than TradersStudio.The charting forms a more central part of the Amibroker platform and just firing up a chart with several indicators is pretty quick. At first glance the money management/portfolio allocation does not appear very rich in Amibroker (in terms of functionality) but I would have to do more testing to confirm this.
The language to create your own indicators, systems, etc. (AFL: Amibroker Formula Language) is based on C and not very hard to pick up especially with the very useful in-line help – it does help to read the tutorials first (!) to get a grasp of the main keywords/built-in functions.
Loading the data extracted from CSI Unfair Advantage was fairly straight-forward and there seems to be a bunch of ready-made interfaces with other data vendors in addition to the Amiquote utility – which allows you import quotes in Amibroker. It seems that there is more flexibility in the type of data fields that can be loaded.
Overall I was pretty pleased at what I was able to achieve in a short amount of time. For some reason I found it very hard to get into TradersStudio whereas Amibroker was easier to tackle (once you understand its working concept).
Obviously I have not explored all the functionalities of either software and this is definitely not an exhaustive review. As a result of all this I will be buying a copy of Amibroker to complement (or replace?) TradersStudio. I am sure both platforms each have their pros and cons so having both is probably a good idea (and not a very costly one since Amibroker costs only $200!).