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Thinking of buying Trading Blox?

February 1st, 2010 · 70 Comments · Backtest, Software

Well, I am…
TradingBloxLogo

Regular readers might think that I suffer from backtesting-software-indecision-itis. Having first settled for TradersStudio, I then evaluated (and purchased) AmiBroker and found that it was 25 times faster than TradersStudio (at least for the calculation of the e-ratio). However, AmiBroker is not really geared towards true portfolio allocation testing with Futures and could not just replace TradersStudio – so I purchased it as a (cheap: $199) complement to it.

Why TradersStudio in the first place?

During my first round of evaluation, I did hesitate between TradersStudio and Trading Blox. At the time, it appeared that there was not a huge difference in functionality but a substantial price difference ($499 for TradersStudio, $3,000 for the full version of Trading Blox Builder). And this is how the choice was made.

However, I never really got past my TraderStudio’s first (not so good) impressions. Ultimately, I find the platform awkward to work with, documentation rather poor and the user community is very small.

So I decided to give Trading Blox another go and test their latest trial version (v3.3), and give you a teaser review of it.

Trading Blox: friendly, efficient, fast, professional

Trading Blox is vastly superior in terms of user interface “friendliness” and efficiency (love that script management/edit screen!). This makes the documentation lookup less necessary (and in any case, it is rather better).

The simulation runs are also very fast (300 stepped parameter tests under 7 minutes) and the software comes pre-packed with about a dozen ready-coded systems including the famous Turtle Trading system.

Finally, the numerous backtest options (slippage, commission, rollover slippage, volume, interest, etc.) should simulate trading reality much more closely.

Overall, it feels that the difference between Trading Blox and TradersStudio can be summed up by Pro vs. Amateur: both good at what they do, but playing in different leagues.

Trading Blox Support broker: Wisdom Trading

Once you’ve developed your trading system, you can trade it live with Trading Blox. It simply reads new market data, runs the same systems code and generate an order sheet for the next session. And if you don’t fancy the extra workload of running this every day or if you have extra commitments, there is a futures global broker specialised in trading systems and Trading Blox more specifically: Wisdom Trading can trade your system for you. They’re officially recommended by Trading Blox and offer access to many global futures to boot – not a negligible aspect for us system traders, with the importance of diversification.

I can definitely see myself using their services to avoid having to generate orders several times during the day or not having to worry about system execution during holidays or other time away.

User community

Trading Blox forum is very good, with top-notch contributors. I joined it a few months ago and the discussion there is top-level, be it on all aspects of trading in general, backtesting, Data problems, Trading Blox questions, etc. It also has a marketplace where users can exchange code/systems, etc. This forum played a big part in my decision to re-consider Trading Blox (TradersStudio’s own forum and yahoo user group are barely ticking…).

In closing: screenshots

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I feel I am about to give in and “cut my losses short” with TradersStudio and redeploy my resources towards Trading Blox. In the end, it is a “time vs dollar trade” and I feel that the initial outlay will give a great payback (in time savings and progress made). After all, automated trading is a business and one should not shy away from the essential investments.

Tomorrow, I should post a detailed system test using Trading Blox; but for now please find below some screenshots of the software (click to zoom in):

Result Reports

Result Reports


rich choice in general options

rich choice in general options


System Editor

System Editor


Blox Editor

Blox Editor


Heat map for stepped parameter

Heat map for stepped parameter

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70 Comments so far ↓

  • Jez Liberty

    Thanks innertrader – I do recall having seen this a while back. I have to agree that TB development can be quite “quirky” and has a bit of a learning curve for more advanced functionalities..

  • Teresa

    Hi Jez,
    Looking to purchase Trading Blox. How has you experience been now that some time has passed? is it still your preferred software?

  • Jez Liberty

    Teresa,
    Yes it is – although I have to admit I have not really looked elsewhere since I started using it. I believe in itself this is a good indication.
    For back-testing I believe this is a strong contender for being the reference software.
    Jez

  • innertrader

    Jez,
    An update. I purchased the Blox “Turtle” version and had spend several months getting used to it and then I wanted to purchase the other versions. However, they had increased the price of the “Turtle” version, which I already had and wanted to “back charge” me for the increase if I purchased the remaining versions. Therefore, I quite Blox and requested a refund, which I received.
    I was very unhappy with they way they did business.
    Since then, TradeStation has produced a method of testing multiple markets at the same time and is so easy to use with the regular TradeStation platform that I am no glad that I received a refund…. even if it did cost me months.
    Check out the new addition to TradeStation, I think you’ll like it particularly if you are already a TradeStation user.
    Later!

  • Stefan

    Hi Jez,
    I have a feeling that at the end serious researchers hit the limit of platform and go with C, Matlab, or something similar. I think most traders would be surprised how Matlab, Easy Language, etc. are similar & easy languages. Suppliers of research platforms make disservice to research community by offering some GUI nonsense with precooked strategies:-)
    Stefan

  • Jez Liberty

    I think there are two sides to this:
    On one part, it is true that there are more “quantitative” aspects of a trading system for which Matlab ,R or other platforms are more adapted… However, applications like Trading Blox give researchers like ourselves a very good framework and base platform, which makes strategy development much faster to achieve in my opinion.
    My ideal solution would still be a Trading Blox-like platform that would allow easy integration with external code

  • Jez Liberty

    Thanks very much for the feedback innertrader. I did notice that TradeStation had come up with this new version with the multiple markets addition a few months ago. I suspect it is not as powerful as Trading Blox (yet?) but I haven’t looked into it. Would love if you had examples of what you can/cannot do with it compared to TB…
    On another note, I agree with you re: the way TB has handled the change in license fees. You’re not the only one that was unhappy…

  • Stefan

    Jez/Innertrader:
    Tradestation purchased Rina Systems some time ago, so now they probably made an integration. Rina was a nice piece (around 2000) and I doubt that Trading Blox will be able to compete. Still the main disadvantage was that you got 10-20 core risk mgmt. strategies but could not code your own risk rules. I guess that Trading Blox has the same limits. (?) Since most traders do not have capital to do even the fixed fractional on a limited portfolio, at the end, all this does not matter…
    S.

  • Bigdog

    I see that they have closed the forum on the TB website. Any tips on anothers that is similar and just as good that isn’t closed?

  • Jez Liberty

    Bigdog, unfortunately there does not seem to be any equivalent out there… (that I know of)

  • Alistair Wood

    Seems short sighted to shut everyone out of the open forums, also many of the people who contributed very useful content will now be excluded and as some of that content was created by people no longer allowed access it seems pretty unfair.

  • innertrader

    It does seem like TB has made some very strange business decisions over the last 9 months or so. I think it has more to do with a new biz partner, therefore, it may continue…. it’s really too bad, for everyone.

  • Stefan

    Any PE/VI investor would do the same. They provide the software package and the idle talk is secondary. In the second step, I would even question “blox” in the brand.

  • Dan

    Hi Jez, Great discussion! I am looking to purchase Trading Blox for backtesting a portfolio of futures with non-standard position sizing and periodic rebalancing of dollars among each of the futures instruments. It seems very flexible and well-suited for futures in genaral. However, it does seem that there are multiple things that I will have to code. I was wondering do you think it is still the best tool for this task? Also, how long did it take you to get up to speed with coding new concepts?

  • Jez Liberty

    Hi Dan,
    Blox comes with pre-supplied systems already coded but for other concepts, trading ideas, it is really a framework where you can implement your own concepts by scripting (coding) them up.
    The language is not too difficult at all but there is a bit of learning curve to understand the different objects that you can “play with” in your code. The help file and forums make it easy to learn though.
    Difficult to give a timeframe for learning – on my side, I am a software consultant by trade and I found it easy to pick it up.

  • Dan

    Hi Jez, I am still leaning towards Trading Blox, but I have done some more looking and came across TradeLink. Since I am going to have to code/script most of my ideas with Trading Blox anyway, I thought this may be an alternative. I was just wondering if you have used this tool and if so what you thought. Thanks, Dan

  • Jez Liberty

    Dan,
    Never heard of TradeLink actually.

  • Lagoonboy

    Hi JL.

    Further to Dan’s comment, I just quickly looked up TradeLink and the GUI for typing-in your system looks amazing.

    4 minute video at:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcALXLzgYfU

    Looks like its free and Open Source.

    Outline of what it can do at:
    https://code.google.com/p/tradelink/wiki/WhatIsTradeLink

    Thanks for your observations on TB.

  • Jason Chui

    However, AmiBroker is not really geared towards true portfolio allocation testing with Futures and could not just replace TradersStudio.

    Mind clarifying on the above statement?

    thanks !!

  • Jez Liberty

    Hey Jason, this is an old post so I’ll have to rely on my memory. Also this might have changed within AmiBroker too…
    But as far as I can remember, you could not do multi-systems testing and and sort of portfolio-level interaction: i.e. if we have two Long Rates positions “ON”, do not take any new ones..
    Might be worth double-checking if it’s still a valid comment though..

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