From the January 01, 2010 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Software review: eSignal 10.6

eSignal 10.6

eSignal
3955 Point Eden Way
Hayward, CA 94545

Phone: (510)264-1700

Web site: www.eSignal.com

Support: www.eSignal.com/support

Requirements:
Windows 2000, Windows XP,
Vista, Windows 7

Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.0 GHz or faster
17” or larger dual monitors
with 1024x768 resolution
2 GB RAM
40 MB available disk space
DSL or cable modem
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0

Price:

eSignal $125 annual prepay $95.00

eSignal OnDemand – EOD $24.95

eSignal Advanced GET – $3,995 includes mentoring and membership

30 day risk free trial available

Overall Rating: 4 of 4

The new version of eSignal front end software is an enhanced trading environment with all the bells and whistles sophisticated traders need, but with an intuitive user interface that makes it easy, even for beginners, to start trading with confidence. The new eSignal front end allows you to trade equities, options, futures and forex around the world, and provides all the access and tools you’ll need to trade with the pros.

The new eSignal 10.6 also includes all the available data, charting, scanning, analytics, and backtesting support that helps you design strategies. In today’s fast paced world of automated trading, rapid trading-model deployment is a key factor in profitability, and eSignal makes research and development of just about any strategy easier and more efficient.

Installation, documentation and support: 4 of 4

The installation process is smooth. You’ll be placing trades in no time, without the need for extensive software training, though it’s available if you need it. Lack of professional documentation in the financial technology space has always been a pet peeve of mine, but I’m happy to report that eSignal has really stepped up to the plate over the last several years. They provide a wide array of help files, documentation, tutorials, Web site resources, forums and support to answer just about every conceivable question you could have.

Just to poke around a little bit more, I placed a few calls to the support desk. The person I spoke with was friendly and knowledgeable, although when I asked more in depth questions he was unable to transfer me to the appropriate technical staff. All I got was another phone number to call and an email address, which was somewhat unsatisfying. Nevertheless, when I did get the right person on the line, they were professional and helpful.

Features: 3.5 of 4

The standard tools run the usual gamut: order execution, charting, trade blotter, and news feeds. But additionally, eSignal offers access to up-to-date Standard & Poor’s Compustat data, Morningstar, Equity Trader and Edgar Online. And, their available scanners can perform searches of all stocks based on user-defined criteria. It’s a quick way to sift through mountains of rough financial data to find the diamonds of opportunity quickly. Research automation is becoming a competitive necessity, and eSignal’s capabilities are on the
leading edge.

I especially like the eSignal Formula Script (EFS). Using the EFS scripting language you can build customized trading strategies. But even if you’re not a programmer, you can use the EFS Wizard to the build the script for you. Then, you can backtest your ideas using the Strategy Analyzer, which will show all the important performance metrics, and paper trade them until you’re ready to go live. You’ll be placing automated trades in no time, without the need for a computer science degree.

If you are a computer scientist and intend to use the eSignal Desktop API, you might be somewhat disappointed. The object model is hardly slick, and although it’s advertised as “Language Friendly,” “the Visual Studio 2005 development environment is not supported.” Some of the sample code was written in VB 6.0. That’s so last century. It’s hard to be language friendly with your Desktop API if your Desktop API doesn’t support your desktop operating system’s most popular languages — VB.NET and C#. Also, repeated calls and emails to the API support desk were not returned, so it seems that their commitment to the API product may not be whole-hearted.

Functionality: 4 of 4

Trading for several hours over several days showed the system to be fast and accurate at executing trades, (at least simulated ones). The environment is easy to work in and fully customizable, so you can change the look and the layout to keep you up-to-the-minute on the market information you want. The EFS tool is fun to work with.

Conclusion:

Overall, eSignal’s software is very good. They meet the needs of the professional trader: analytics, backtesting, market access. They also provide whatever training and support you might need. The EFS and Strategy Analyzer functionalities will be a competitive advantage for traders who use it. However, traders interested in more hard-core automated trading will likely be underwhelmed by the Desktop API package.

Ben Van Vliet is a lecturer in and associate director of the MS Finance program at the IIT Stuart School of Business. His research and teaching focuses on design and development of algorithmic trading systems. Email him at bvanvliet@stuart.iit.edu

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