Installation, documentation and support: 3.75 out of 4
Installation of TradeStation 9.0 from tradestation.com is straightforward. Recent releases of the product include an automatic update feature so that the user does not have to check for updates. TradeStation charts and graphics always have been attractively and professionally rendered. The 9.0 product was given a face-lift with new graphics and icons, while the overall application layout, thankfully, has remained consistent.
The architecture of TradeStation supports the use of multiple Desktops, which can be uniquely placed on each monitor/screen configured with the PC (multiple graphics cards and Windows multi-screen support can be used). Within a Desktop there can be multiple Workspaces, and within a Workspace multiple charts, data displays and order entry windows.
With this hierarchical design, the trader, using a single subscription and internet connection, can configure any number of screens. The retail trader or small institution can cost-effectively build a sophisticated trading desk with banks of monitors. This is a key feature of TradeStation and underlies the overall goals of the product — the individual trader has access to technology on par with the professional. Broadband internet and low-latency direct access networks help to make this a reality.
Product support is based on website sponsored forums where users can interact with seasoned users and a company support staff. With a large number of experienced and serious traders using the product, the forums are active and contain a wealth of information. The Strategy Network (see below), enhanced in the 9.0 release, gives the user access to third-party strategy and technical analysis software. Also, there is enough EasyLanguage free-ware at the forums to keep the new user fully engaged, to say the least.
Because of the size of the TradeStation customer base, phone support can be problematic if large numbers of users are simultaneously attempting access. If the trade order desk needs to be contacted to monitor a position because of network connectivity problems, the user may not always be able to get through. This problem persists even as TradeStation has heavily invested in its data network.
TradeStation documentation is extensive, well-written and easy to navigate, and has the look-and-feel of a Microsoft Office product like Excel. But, I gave a slightly less than perfect score for this portion of the review, based on a lack of examples using the new TradeStation 9.0 EasyLanguage class libraries and component toolbox; see below.