MultiCharts Introduce .NET Starter Edition
MultiCharts have just announced on their blog that they have introduced what they describe as:
The BEST currently available free trading software.
The MultiCharts hype machine goes on to say that:
MultiCharts 8.5 Starter Edition is a FREE version of our award-winning trading platform. Starter Edition was designed for beginner traders to ease the burden of buying expensive software when you are just starting out. MultiCharts .NET Starter Edition offers all features of MultiCharts .NET, including LIVE trading capabilities (chart, DOM, drag-and-drop strategies and fully automated), best charting in the industry, advanced strategy development capabilities in C# and Visual Basic, integration with Visual Studio, high-precision tick-by-tick strategy and portfolio backtesting, extremely fast optimization and more.
They then go on to mention the tiny little fly in the trading ointment:
You can [only] trade up to two (2) symbols at a time.
Here at the Trading Gurus we take all such claims with a large pinch of salt until we've performed our own tests. Here are our hasty initial impressions.
Many moons ago now FXCM introduced the Strategy Trader platform, which looked to us a lot like a "white label" version of the venerable MultiCharts platform, but with strategy programming using the C# language rather than the PowerLanguage flavour of TradeStation's EasyLanguage. More recently FXCM announced that they were dropping support for Strategy Trader whilst subsequently introducing "free" trading using the NinjaTrader platform. Meanwhile MultiCharts .NET was announced, with similar pricing to the standard MultiCharts platform. If you're still following the saga it looks like the new MultiCharts .NET 8.5 Starter Edition is the uprated C# equivalent of MultiCharts Discretionary Trader, which was free of charge but did not allow automated trading, and is now conspicuous only by its absence from MultiCharts web site.
The first thing to note is that even though it's free of charge there are both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of MultiCharts .NET SE available. As MultiCharts point out:
If you have a 32-bit Windows, MultiCharts can only use up to 2 GB of RAM. If you have 64-bit Windows, MultiCharts can use all RAM for maximum performance.
On firing up the installer it discovered I already had Microsoft .NET Framework versions 3.5 and 4.0 on my hard drive, and so it only installed the new platform itself. As it did that the installation small print took the trouble to point out to me that you can:
Get started right away with FREE 30 days of real-time futures, index and FX data (no credit card required) – just fill out a simple form when you start the program. All necessary features to be a successful trader are at your fingertips!
Having finally got the platform installed I started it up to discover that my screen suddenly looked like this:
It rather looks as though MultiCharts are hoping to earn a crust from the product courtesy of DQN's IQFeed doesn't it? Despite that enticing offer I couldn't help but notice that MC SE appears to support Interactive Brokers out of the box. Since I have an account with IB I selected the "I have a data feed subscription" option and clicked "Next", which led me here:
At that point in proceedings the Wizard's magic deserted it, since I actually run Interactive Brokers' IB Gateway on a separate server. To try and keep MultiCharts SE happy I closed that down and started up IB's Trader Workstation on the same machine as my MCSE installation. Since Ray the Random Robot and his offspring have a particular penchant for cable, I then looked up GBP and selected GBP.USD on the IDEALPRO "exchange":
Since a lot of "beginner traders" like to start out on the S&P e-mini futures I selected them on Ray's behalf too:
Having selected Ray's two favourite instruments I clicked the "Finish" button, but MultiCharts SE refused to finish! It kept popping up the IB symbol search window, so eventually I clicked "Cancel" instead, and then manually connected to Interactive Brokers. However I still couldn't seem to open up a chart or a DoM for either cable or the e-minis. As luck would have it I am familiar with the innermost workings of MultiCharts so next I fired up the MultiCharts .NET QuoteManager, which revealed this to me:
So there you have our initial impressions of MultiCharts .NET SE. It looks like there are one or two teething troubles that MultiCharts still need to sort out, if you don't particularly want to pay for IQFeed at least. In case it's of some help to somebody, here's what QuoteManager looks like when it is configured correctly:
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