Custom Studies in Sierra Chart

Forgiving Computers began developing trading systems for Sierra Chart, which has a very powerful user interface for creating and combining studies, alerts, and trading systems. At first, spreadsheet studies were used, due to their simplicity and ease of creating new tools. Spreadsheets, which automatically import price data and the values of the attached chart studies, allow new formulas to combine input data to create new outputs: lines, symbols, backgrounds, alerts, and trade entries and exits.

While flexible and relatively simple, the spreadsheet studies create a new set of complications.  For one, they cannot be shared between chart books. To do so would create a performance bottleneck on top of the overhead provided by the spreadsheet functionality. Another drawback is the performance penalty of using spreadsheets since the study is going through a layer of translation into and out of the spreadsheet.

The alternative to creating custom studies in spreadsheets is to write them in a high-level programming language and compiling them to plug-in efficiently to the Sierra Chart platform. Sierra provides an Application Programming Interface (API) called ACSIL, or Advanced Custom Study/System Interface and Language. This allows new studies to be written in C++,  the same open source programming language that not only Sierra Chart is written in, but C++ and its older relative C, are the “languages of choice” when performance is important (think operating systems, drivers, games, browsers, etc.). By writing custom studies and trading systems in C++ we get the benefits of a rich programming interface, which means we can get “under the hood” and do things that the spreadsheet studies cannot do. For example, order flow data (i.e. Number Bars in Sierra) is available in ACSIL but not in spreadsheets. Will C++ DLL studies, Trade Order Quantity does not have to be set in two places, the study has its own inputs, without relying on another study for Inputs. The potential for more and better advanced systems is far higher with hard coded, C++, studies.

The S3, T3, and W3 trading systems have all been rewritten in C++, and they are now available as DLL files, as all studies included in Sierra Chart are. There is no issue with sharing DLL files across chartbooks, as each chart gets its own copy of the study without being shared. Their compact size means improved performance. Also, they can be made available to customers on a time limited trial basis, allowing you to test drive them before buying. Besides being smaller and faster, the DLL’s are automatically installed in your data folder (even if you have more than one instance) and are automatically updated.

From this point on there will no longer be system development or updates for spreadsheet systems. They will continue to function, but support for them will end sometime this summer. You are encouraged to give the tools a try and compare it side by side with the spreadsheet system. Owners of the Version 1 and 2 systems will receive a discount off the lifetime subscription equal to the price they paid for the spreadsheet system(s).

Version 3 Auto Trader Studies are Here!

At long last, it is my pleasure to announce the immediate availability of the new and improved S3, T3, and W3 Custom Studies, completely re-written in C++ using the Sierra Chart ACSIL interface. By writing the auto-trading systems in C++, users will obtain multiple benefits, including the option of a free 30-day trial. The studies eliminate the Spreadsheets previously used, and the problems that go with them.  All future development will be in C++ and the previous versions of the studies will no longer be available.

Sierra Chart/AT is written in C++. an open-source, high level programming language that compiles into very efficient code that can be extended with custom studies using Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL’s) that are automatically installed for licensed users upon startup of the trading platform. The new Version 3 studies can be used in multiple charts and chartbooks at the same time with no issues, as they all appear to be separate programs to the application.  With no overhead from Spreadsheet studies, the DLLs will perform faster, use less memory and disk space, and be automatically updated with new features and bug fixes. Also, they have their own study setup parameters, eliminating the need to have a separate “Inputs” study.

The new studies will be available on a subscription basis, with monthly, quarterly, and annual subscriptions available. The subscriptions require a configuration of your Sierra Chart username, which you can find in Help>>About. The Sierra Account.  When the configuration is done, you receive an email confirming order completion. At that time you will need to stop and restart the Sierra/AT platform, in order to download the chartbooks and custom DLL files.

Customers who purchased the spreadsheet versions of the trading systems will receive a coupon code(s) to apply towards the purchase of the new systems. Look for the coupon codes in your email.  While the previous versions of the studies will continue to work, there will not be any further development of the spreadsheet-based systems. You are encouraged to sign-up for a risk susbcription, including one month free. Should you cancel before the end of the trial period,  there will be no more charges.  You can read more about the Subscription Terms and Conditions by clicking here.

It has taken some time for me to learn how to code in C++, as I cut my teeth on BASIC and FORTRAN back in the ’70s.  While a lot can be done with spreadsheets, there are significant limitations using them. I plan on adding new systems and features, which will make auto-trading more advanced. For example, the DLL studies can access Order Flow data, while the spreadsheets cannot.

I look forward to hearing from you when you have had a chance to try them out. Please feel free to leave product reviews as well.

I look forward to the new chapter in Trading Systems Development.



New Versions of Studies Coming

Hi all, I wanted to give an update to the blog about the work I am doing with the trading system studies. I have decided that from now on all new development will be done in C++, the internal programming language of Sierra Chart. The benefits are many: faster, tighter code, faster decision making, smaller memory usage, no issues with sharing SCSS files between chart books, automatic updates, and I can offer customers trial versions. I have completed the S3 and T3 studies, and I am in the process of completing the documentation, videos, and web pages. I hope to have everything ready to go early June 2018.



Online Training

With remote control software, we can share screens and I can provide one on one training in the Sierra Chart application. Maybe you need some time getting to learn all the details, or just want to know how to do a specific task. I am an experienced IT Professional, Software Developer, and Trainer.  Want to learn how to use trailing stops? How about alerts? Wondered how spread sheets work with Sierra? Wonder no more, as we can work together to make your trading platform more familiar.  This was the thinking behind the name Forgiving Computers. We make computers less challenging and more useful.

Spring Newsletter

Forgiving Computers Newsletter



Spring is here! We have been busy at Forgiving Computers working on getting new products online as well as fixing up the web site to be more user friendly and helpful. If you haven’t been there in a while, there are several new products and enhancements.

  1. New Trading Systems for Sierra Chart
    1. A new trend following system called W3 has been added. It is based on moving average crossovers and can produce some excellent returns.
    2. The popular S3 Auto Trader has been updated to Version 2 with several fixes. Current date code is 180303.
    3. The T3 system as has been automated and is available to download. Date code: 20180226
    4. An S3/T3 combo is also available with both automated systems side-by-side in the same chartbook. Date code: 180317
  2. Site improvements
    1. A new shopping cart application was installed, which allows for coupon codes and customer groups.
    2. Blogging entries have been started, and will continue as we move forward.
    3. Wiki Based user manuals and troubleshooting.
    4. Online support ticketing.
    5. PayPal and Stripe payment options give flexibility in shopping.
    6. Improved menus with drop downs.
    7. My Downloads, a page of all your previous downloads. As the programs are updated you can download them again for free. (If you don’t see anything, please open a support ticket, the old shopping cart orders were not migrated.)
  3. Notice for all users: Due to a limitation uncovered recently with Sierra Chart, it is necessary to keep all your trading charts in the New York time zone, or the levels and studies that are overlaid from other charts will be shifted in time, and be incorrect.

As a customer of Forgiving Computers I value your business, and if there is anything you would like to see more of, please feel free to let me know.

Your friend in trading,

Brad Houser

Lifetime Member

So after the trial period, and maybe a extra month of membership after that, I decided I liked it in the room, and sprung for lifetime membership. This was a serious decision, because it was also about this time, that it became clear that David wasn’t there to call out all his trades so we could do what he does.  He is there to teach us “how to fish”, so we would know when to take the trades following his methodology or one help us find the right mix of strategies for various market conditions.  Was I ready to do this? I took the plunge.

So at this time, I have been in the room about 2 years. I have learned a lot from David and the other members, so now I give back to the room and to others, with this web site. My hope is that by doing so, we can help give the small retail trader a fighting chance in this world of High Frequency Trading algos, big money, and professional traders who can smell a novice a thousand miles away.

Soon after I joined the room, David said he planned on doing this the rest of his life, and since I am a few years older than him, I figured that should work for the rest of my life. Proof of his dedication to the room is the fact that he turned down a job at a well known trading school, because would have to stop teaching his strategy, stop running his trading room, and his shutdown his web site.

Thank you David. You are a true believer in giving knowledge to others.

The T3 Trial

My first real trading platform was TradeStation. It sounded cool, and to a guy who as a kid was really into trains, it sounded like a train station for stocks.  I used it for a few months after the academy of trading class, and I was happy with it.

Then I learned about ThinkorSwim about a year later. I was a TOS user for several years. I listened in to the chat room, and tried to follow along with the discussion in the chat box. I tried a few things with the charts, and learned all about option curves and strategies.  I found the platform powerful, but hard to do anything special. I looked at ThinkScript, and having a background in Computer Science, I figured I could learn this. However, it didn’t excite me, as I realized the tools weren’t the problem, it was my search for the holy grail that was the problem.

I tried applying the revised core strategy that Online Trading Academy taught,  where you look for areas of supply and demand based on what I would call price action “foot prints”. The foot prints were easy to see, once you trained your eye.  They could occur on any time frame, and these areas would be returned to if only to fill your one trade. Like support and resistance, they would define a range, but unlike them you could only count on them the on the first or second time price returned to them. I found there were just too many things to look at, and their “odds enhancers” only added to the search.

David’s room used new charts. They were smooth and they had trending bars and indecision bars. His color coding of various technical indicators, like moving average crossovers appeared to be something I could get my arms around. After following his videos on setting up TOS charts to “match” his, i soon realized I was at a disadvantage using TOS.

David’s charts were being shared with the room, and his charts were generated with Sierra Chart.  I was noticing a significant delay in my charts compared to his, which were by nature delayed 500ms or so due to the webinar sharing. So if I was seeing his charts half a second after it happened, and my TOS charts were even slower, I decided this was not conducive to good trading. I switched to a broker that supported Sierra Charts.

David has a big collection of pre-built chartbooks for Sierra Chart, and along with his ebook, training videos, and online coaching, I was able to get up to speed quickly. I was self concious at first being the newbie in the room, asking all these dumb questions about the Sierra platform. David was there to help, and as a former high school teacher, and current university level instructor, his passion for teaching was obvious. He is always patient with the group, even when he missed a good trade because he was explaining something at the time. and David Katz

If you are looking for a trading room experience with traders from all walks of life, check out, and the on-line trading room run by David Katz. I recommend his room for several reasons. For one, it is a teaching room, where not only David, but many members share their knowledge and trading ideas with the rest of room. Second, the group, is smalle, rarely over 40 online at once, and there is a lot of personal interaction.  Third, it got me started with new ways of looking at the market, and new tools to analyze them.

I first learned of David Katz in early 2016, when I was searching through YouTube for videos on trading futures. It was a recording of a webinar he had done where he explained his most two important rules: Patience and Discipline. They work together. If you wait for your setup, and follow your plan, you can be successful. He went on to show how he simplified a complex set of rules into a dashboard of colored backgrounds and symbols to help identify the setups.

OK, but what if you were still looking for a strategy that works for you? I had taken courses at an academy of online trading, and while its core strategy was described as mechanical, there was a lot of subjective criteria that made the amount of information needed to decide on a trader to be quite overwhelming. I was happy to see that here was this T3 Strategy that I might be able to pick up.

So I signed  up for the trial week.

Welcome Sierra Chart Users

My name is Brad Houser. I have been using Sierra Chart for over 2 years, after having used TradeStation and ThinkorSwim. I find it very flexible, lightweight, and powerful. It takes a little getting used to, and its UI is sort of reminiscent of Windows NT. However, since it is written in C++, it uses much less memory than the other platforms, and it performs much faster.

I started creating Studies with Spreadsheets and have found them to be very versatile and straightforward. I gradually got some auto trading studies working, and wanted to share them with other Sierra Chart users who are interested in exploring them. Auto-trading can be helpful if you have a trading plan that follows a set of mechanical rules for getting into and exiting a trade. It is not a good idea to let them run without supervision, as you may need to use some discretion if market conditions are not according to your plan. I have created auto trading chartbooks for futures that are configurable for various scenarios. They also help you stick to your plan by setting Daily Maximum profit and loss limits that will shut off auto trading when met. Even if you don’t use the signal for automatic trading, these trading systems can help you decide if you want to manually enter a trade or not.

If there is a system you would like me to develop, I can let you know if I can code it for you. I charge different amounts if it is only to be for you, or if I can resell it to others. Let me know in the Contact Us form.