Option Investor
Trader's Corner

Back to Basis, Part Two

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Last week, I discussed the basics of getting started with QuoteTracker, a charting service that some subscribers might consider as either a backup charting service or their primary source. To review, QT has a free version. Even the registered version, free of advertisements and offering more days of data, costs only $7.00 a month. The data feed comes from either one of the available brokerages with which QT works or a subscriber vendor. Among the available brokerages are Interactive Brokers, OptionsXpress and BrokersXpress, brokerages used by many of our subscribers. That makes this service an ideal backup service for our readers.

Because a trusted reader expressed some concerns about last week's article, an article that appeared to him to be more commercial than helpful trading advice, I thought some explanation of the reasoning behind last week's article and this one might be in order. His points were valid, and I thought some readers might share his concerns. First, I assure you that I have no connection with QuoteTracker, and they have neither requested nor approved anything I write here, and I have received no remuneration from them. It's my sole viewpoint.

While I certainly understand the reader's concerns, I also had reasons I consider valid for writing these articles. We cannot trade effectively without effective trading tools. Our choices of a brokerage, advisory service and charting service all involve choosing effective tools. It's more important that you have charts and that the feed is reliable than that you have a certain indicator, but you also want a charting service that allows you to measure what's happening in the way you like to do so, with those chosen indicators. It's appropriate to decide whether a certain charting service has made available the technical indicators our readers most often want. Moreover, I've long been a proponent of having a backup method of contacting your brokerage in case of an Internet or power failure and a backup quote and chart service in case your preferred one goes down.

I remember a long-ago series on setting up charts with QCharts, unfortunately no longer available since the archives were deleted when the new website was initiated. That series helped me set up my own charts when I was a new QCharts user, so I was amenable to the suggestion to do a similar series on QuoteTracker. However, since I do consider the subscriber's concerns valid, I'm going to keep the number of my articles on this topic few, stopping the review of QuoteTracker with this article. I'm giving you just a flavor of what might be found on QuoteTracker rather than going through each jit and jot of setting it up. I want you to see enough to determine if it's a valuable trading tool for you to consider, either as a backup or main charting service, but not to tell you how to arrange your charts or accomplish any other housekeeping-type tasks. You can discover those on your own after you've determined whether you're interested in this charting service. So, when you read about what I did setting up QuoteTracker, I don't mean to be focusing on my needs as a technical trader, but just providing you with a flavor of the service so that you can determine if offers enough varied indicators, is legible enough for you to read, and user-friendly enough for you to tackle.

Read last week's article for more information about initial considerations, particularly if you use OptionsXpress or BrokersXpress. Neither of those offers backfill, and that may change how you want to receive data feed if you're going to use QuoteTracker or even whether you want to use it at all. I also forgot to mention in last week's article that although BrokersXpress is not listed as among the available brokerages, BrokersXpress clients can identify OptionsXpress as the source of data feed and then use their BrokersXpress login information. It works. I tried it out, although I opted to pay for a feed for my own use.

Last week's article discussed setting up a portfolio. Once you've got one or more portfolios set up, it's easy to call up your first chart. All you have to do is right-click on any of the symbols in your portfolio, and you'll be presented with a menu that allows you to look at intraday or historical charts as well as any number of other options. One of those options is backfilling the chart, which I've done for an intraday chart on the Diamonds, a three-minute chart showing the last day of trading, which was October 13 when this article was begun.

Three-Minute Chart of the DIA:

A difficulty presented itself immediately upon calling up my first chart, a difficulty that might not exist for other new QuoteTracker users: the default color system used. Because I write for OptionInvestor, including charts with my articles (with the permission of QuoteTracker), I needed a new color scheme. Our subscribers sometimes print out articles to study later, and a dark background causes difficulties. Perhaps you print out your own charts, too, or just don't like the dark background.

Fortunately, the color scheme proves easy to change. Right-clicking directly on the chart produces a pull-down menu with an option for "Color Schemes." You can change the color of the gradient background, the grid, trendlines, and indicators, among other choices. You can change the scheme temporarily or can set up and save several different versions of color schemes, using names that you choose. I have one labeled OIN, for example, for use with charts that will be published with my articles.

Three-Minute Chart of the DIA, OIN Color Scheme

Switching from one color scheme to the other becomes a simple matter of right-clicking on a chart, choosing "Color Schemes" and then selecting the preferred scheme for that chart out of those that you've set up.

That same right click on the chart offers an option for "Select Indicators." That's where you'll find upper indicators such as Bollinger Bands, moving averages, pivot points, and lower indicators such as RSI, CCI and MACD. You'll also find a number of indicators that will likely prove unfamiliar, too, unless you've tried nearly every indicator there is. The choice appears to be good.

When presented with the list of indicators, you can double click on the indicator you want to use, and it will move to the open window the right in the indicator screen that's pulled up. An edit button will appear beside the chosen indicator, and you can click that button to change the allowable parameters of the indicator.

The following table displays how the "Select Indicator" screen looks after I have set it up to show the nested Keltner channels that I like to watch and RSI. I'm using this as an example both because I do use these nested Keltner charts and also because nesting Keltner channels is not a particularly common charting task, and I wanted to show you that QuoteTracker proved flexible enough to do it. When I tried another and more expensive charting service, I actually had to go find code and adapt it to nest Keltner channels together.

The "<H>" beside the "Volume" indicator means that volume will be hidden. I could also choose to hide all upper or lower indicators at once by checking "Hide" on "Selected Upper Indicators" or "Selected Lower Indicators."

Select Indicators Screen:

"Apply" can be clicked, and the new indicators will be applied to the chart without closing the indicator screen, if you want to further edit your indicator list. Click "OK," and they're applied and the screen is closed. With indicators set up as they were on the illustration above, the chart would appear as it does below.

Three-Minute Chart of the DIA with indicators applied.

The use of Keltner channels or any channel that might have values far outside those of current price movement brings up another possibility with QuoteTracker, adjusting the scale of the charts so that all the channels or other indicators show. This is accomplished by editing the indicator after you've chosen it. Normally, QuoteTracker bases the price scale on charts on the actual prices during the period displayed. Often, especially on intraday charts, this would mean that my widest Keltner channel, the purple one seen at the top but not at the bottom, would not fully display. Note that the value for the lower channel is displayed, but not the channel itself. This might also occur with some other indicators such as Bollinger bands or moving averages in a short-term chart when a move has been extreme. If you want the indicator to show, you can accomplish this goal by clicking "Edit" on the chosen indicator and then checking "Adjust Scale," as shown in the example below, for that widest Keltner chart.

Adjusting Scale:

One interesting option for these charts is to hide the indicators, such as all those nested Keltner channels, but leave the display of their values seen on the right of the chart. So, if I wanted a cleaner chart with only the price bars in the window, I could still glance to the side and see the values for the various Keltner channels. That possibility is also available for moving averages and many others of the indicators. That seems a useful tool if you want a cleaner chart but still want to know where those moving averages might be.

It's possible with QuoteTracker to link two lower indicators so that they'll both display on the same space. Refer back to the third chart to see the indicator screen. If you wanted to link the two lower indicators shown there, volume and RSI, for example, you would click the black button to the left of the top indicator, and it links to the black button to the left of the next one. Click again, and the link is undone. If the indicators you want to link on a chart are not next to each other in the list, drag one of them so that they are positioned one following the other before attempting to link them.

What do you do if you want to look at a 15-minute chart that covers a 10-day period instead of a three-minute chart with data collected over the last day? Right clicking on the chart and producing that same menu that's been needed for all the previous changes allows you to do that, too. "Frequency" and "Chart Period" are the two selections you'll want. Both allow for custom numbers. If you like to study seven-minute charts, for example, as I sometimes do, you can make that choice. Right clicking on an intraday chart also offers the opportunity to display a historical chart, with daily, three-day, weekly, monthly and yearly time-intervals available.

What would a chart be without trendlines, however, one of the most useful tools to advanced and beginning traders alike? That's easy enough. The drawing tool default is set to draw trendlines, so all you need to do is left-click on the place you want begin the trendline and then hold the left-click button down until you've reached the spot you want to stop the trendline. Then you have several options for changing the trendline. By right-clicking on the trendline itself, you can extend it right, left, or both directions, copy it, delete it, and change its color or thickness. You can even set an alert based on a trendline, a great tool, but only on time-based charts.

I have to say that, unless I'm missing the settings, I haven't been able to find any sound-based alert like the spoken one that QCharts offers. Instead, I get various versions of pings or other such sounds, not loud enough to let me know an alert has been triggered if I've gone to the kitchen to make a sandwich. If I've just missed the setting, I'm sure one of our readers will let me know, and I'll pass on that information to the rest of you. I'm still learning about QuoteTracker's possibilities.

Also, QuoteTracker has one oddity associated with right-clicking on a trendline. That's where you're going to locate the all-important Fibonacci brackets. They're not found in the indicator choices or in the drawing tool default, but rather only after drawing a trendline and right-clicking on it.

If you want to draw something other than a trendline, that's a quick matter. If you study the top left of the chart window on any of the Diamonds charts in this article, you can just spot the lower edge of Chart Toolbar. This toolbar is set at auto-hide, but it will pop down when you move your cursor to the top left of the upper chart window.

Chart Toolbar:

Annotating a chart with text or with shapes other than a trendline can be done by clicking on the window with the square, circle and trendline, then choosing the appropriate shape or text. Other choices on this Chart Toolbar include adding extra space on the X-axis, less extra space on the X-axis, extra space on the Y-axis, less extra space on the Y-axis, viewing timeframes, working with chart templates, and an option to move the Chart Toolbar to another corner of the chart. QuoteTracker offers several options such as those extra-space ones and several options in vertical scaling, but it just does not offer the same flexibility that QCharts does, where you can click on the vertical or horizontal axis and either separate bars more widely or squeeze them together with one move of your mouse and with seemingly infinite variety.

QuoteTracker's template option is a helpful one. Most often, I study intraday charts two ways: with nested Keltner channels and with the 100- and 130-ema's. Probably, you have a number of different ways you want to study charts, too. Perhaps you like one with Bollinger bands and RSI and another with moving averages. After I'd set up a chart with the Keltner channels the way I wanted them, all I had to do was to click on that "T" symbol on the Chart Toolbar to save a template titled "Intraday with Keltner."

For those used to QCharts, you'll find another difference in the way QuoteTracker handles charting. To change the symbol you're charting on QuoteTracker, you just click on the chart and then start typing the new symbol rather than go to a window at the top of the workspace. A window will pop up on the chart with "OK" and "Cancel" options.

A last difference lies in the information on the cross-hair position. QuoteTracker allows two choices. Under "Options," "Edit Preferences," "Charts" and then "Miscellaneous," you'll find a choice for "Cross-Hair." You can choose whether to show it or not, but you can also choose whether or not to show the "Freestyle default." Freestyle allows you to see the current position of the cross-hair. Turn that off, and you'll instead see the data box that includes the time and the OHLC (open, high, low and close) information for the price bar that also occupies that vertical space. With QCharts you can see all at the same time: the current position of the cross-hair and the information related to the price bar. With QuoteTracker, you have to choose which you'll look at, at any one time. It's easy to click between the two, but having all that information available at the same time would be more convenient.

That's about it for a basic overview of setting up a portfolio and charts. This gives you enough information to know that you can obtain reliable feeds--perhaps for free, depending on your broker, can chart anything that your chosen feed source provides quotes for and can locate and configure almost any technical indicator you would like. However, QuoteTracker isn't quite as user-friendly as QCharts is, for those of you used to QCharts, and the limitation of ten days of data on intraday charts does sometimes prove . . . well, limiting. Overall, though, I found that I was willing to deal with some of the limitations and have more reliable feed than I'd had with my other charting service. In addition, you just can't beat QuoteTracker's service.

If you're looking for a backup or new charting service, I hope I've given you enough of an overview and a fair look at the (mostly) pros and (few) cons of QuoteTracker, enabling you to make your own decision.

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