eSignal Ė Review

I have been an eSignal customer for about a year, and overall am satisfied. It is an expensive product when compared to something like QuoteTracker or SierraChart, but it has the advantage that the charting and data feeds are coming from the same supplier, so if there is a problem you do not have the issue of the software supplier blaming the data feed and vice versa (something I personally have experienced time and again when using competing products). There are certainly more expensive charting programs out there.

The charts themselves are clean and well presented, and can be customised in many ways, although the user interface is not very intuitive and so it is often necessary to refer to the help system. This help can best be described as adequate. However, itís worth persevering because once you get to learn the many shortcuts, the charting system is actually very useable and flexible. There are two types of charts Ė Basic and Advanced, the latter requiring a slightly higher subscription rate. In reality, the Basic charts are likely to be too basic for most users and can more of less be discounted. Most of the functions can only be applied to the Advanced variety. In addition to bar and candle charts, Advanced charts can be displayed as Line, Point & Figure (a good implementation), Renko, and Kagi charts.

Once you have set up a chart the way you like it in terms of scale, size, colours, indicators and so on, you can save this ďstyleĒ and instantly apply it to other charts. Sets of charts, quote lists etc can be saved as ďPagesĒ, and itís possible to switch quickly between these pages. Every individual window can be popped out of the main eSignal window, which is excellent for getting the best out of multi-monitor systems. In addition to charts, eSignal offers quote lists, level 2 screens, and news tickers. These can all be linked, so for example, selecting a symbol in a quote list will cause all the linked charts, level 2 etc to instantly change to the same symbol. Incidentally, TSim+ can also participate in this linking, so it will always be ready to trade whatever is selected as the linked symbol in eSignal.

All of the usual technical indicators are present, if that is your thing, and there is a Javascript based language called EFS for writing your own. EFS also has some functions for communicating with broker interfaces, and for back testing, although itís rather cumbersome for both and is best reserved for indicator development. If you want to get into deeper customization, there are a couple of levels of API available at additional cost, and these provide raw access to the eSignal data feed.

The data feed itself is the best part of the package. Although it appeared to suffer some problems with some of the European futures exchanges in the latter half of 2003, and there were some random consistency problems earlier this year, the feed is now rock solid. A standard subscription will let you monitor up to 100 symbols, the next level up 250, and if thatís not enough then beyond that you can pay a little extra to get even more.

I only have two real gripes with eSignal. The first is that when a new version is released it often has lots of annoying bugs. Usually not show-stopping whoppers, but enough to make me downgrade to the previous version until they fix them. This is frustrating Ė the development team are obviously working hard at adding as many new features as possible, but in my view they need to spend a little more time ironing out existing problems and testing! However, eSignals management are active on all the main trading forums and so are quick to pick up on these bug reports and pass them back to the developers.

The second gripe is the customer support, which might as well not exist. The support department do a good job of responding to questions, but their answers are normally along the lines of "weíll get back to you" and it takes some subsequent chasing to get anything further out of them. This seems to be a common affliction among vendors of trading products, perhaps they have such a high turnover of customers they donít believe it is worthwhile expending too many resources supporting them. In fairness, Iíve not needed to contact support on too many occasions, but itís always with my fingers firmly crossed when I have done so.

Summary: eSignal is undoubtedly one of the best data feeds around. The charting product is capable enough for most traders, with EFS adding to its usefulness. The excellent data and itís seamless integration in my mind more than makes up for the problems with support.

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