If you’re involved in the trading industry you may have heard of AmiBroker. AmiBroker is a completely comprehensive technical analysis platform that offers backtesting options, technical charts, and more. Does AmiBroker have what your trading needs? Read to find out.
AmiBroker is a comprehensive technical analysis platform designed with advanced traders in mind. In addition to detailed technical charts, AmiBroker offers some of the most in-depth strategy backtesting options available to traders. Walk-forward testing and Monte Carlo simulations make AmiBroker an excellent choice for traders working on developing new trading strategies, and a built-in programming language makes the platform incredibly versatile.
AmiBroker is only available for Windows, although Mac users may use the software inside a Windows virtual machine.
The Standard version of the software costs $279 (one-time fee) but is limited to one-minute charting intervals at the finest resolution and only allows you to look at 10 stocks in real-time at once. In addition, this version is limited to using two CPU threads and is only available in a 32-bit program.
The Professional version of AmiBroker costs $339 and unlocks unlimited real-time data as well as intraday charting intervals as fine as ticks. With a Professional license, you have access to the 64-bit version of AmiBroker and the ability to run 32 CPU threads at once.
The Ultimate Pro Pack costs $499 and includes AmiBroker Professional as well as the AmiQuote and AFL Code Pack softwares. AmiQuote is a program that automatically downloads real-time quote data, while the Code Pack software is designed to write code for you based on plain-English sentences. These software packages can be purchased separately as well.
All AmiBroker licenses come with 24 months of free upgrades and support, and you can try out AmiBroker Professional for 30 days before a license is required.
The place to begin with AmiBroker is the technical charts. These are highly versatile charts, similar to what you would find in a program like ThinkorSwim. You can quickly and easily add a wide variety of technical analyses to the charts, switch between multiple timescales, and completely customize the appearance of your charts as needed.
However, compared to other technical charting programs, AmiBroker’s charting options are less intuitive. By default, adding technical analyses to your chart adds them in separate windows below the candlestick plot rather than as overlays. That said, there are a number of unique and useful drawing tools, such as regression channels and multiple Fibonacci patterns.
The AFL (AmiBroker Formula Language) formula editor is where AmiBroker comes into its own as a software platform. There are a handful of basic functions, such as for scanning for a moving average crossover. But most of the default options in the editor are templates with stand-in variables rather than actual values. This is great for experienced users who just want a quick reference when designing a new formula, but the lack of numerous basic formulas (for things like Bollinger bands, for example) can be trying for users who are new to AmiBroker. Still, the definitive advantage to the formula editor and AmiBroker as a whole is that the built-in coding language is almost unlimited in possibilities.
The editor is extremely functional, with an in-line syntax verifier that you can use to check your code before running an analysis. In addition, as you type, you can choose from a drop-down list of functions to speed up your coding. AmiBroker’s manual and online support forum together offer a lot of insight into how the code editor works for advanced functions, although there is a significant learning curve to getting up and running with designing functions.
Once you’ve created a formula in the editor, you can unleash the power of AmiBroker’s analysis functions. Scanning and backtesting are impressively fast in AmiBroker – a simple scan takes less than a second on a single CPU, and backtesting is exponentially faster than in competing programs like Ninja Trader. Results are displayed in a simple Excel-style table, but can be exported to a report or to a spreadsheet.
You also have a ton of flexibility in your backtesting to define everything from the portfolio size to which sub-portions of tickers you would like the backtesting applied to. Like much of AmiBroker’s functionality, these settings can be overwhelming to users new to the platform and require getting over a steep learning curve to make the most of them.
Similarly, the screener can be used to identify potential trades based on a formula-defined trading strategy. This is particularly potent for swing traders and end-of-day traders, as the scan will quickly identify buy, sell, or other signals defined in your formula.
The parameter optimization and walk-forward analysis portions of AmiBroker’s analysis platform are among the software’s most powerful and unique features. Within your formula code, you have the option to define multiple parameters, each with many different possible values. You can use AmiBroker’s “optimize” analysis to force AmiBroker to determine the most profitable possible combination of parameters for any given formula over any pre-selected timespan. When developing a new trading strategy, this optimization function is invaluable for determining which parameters work well together.
Similarly, the walk-forward testing will use these parameters to examine the range of possible outcomes based on the broader historical range of your strategy beyond what was defined in your backtest. Walking a formula forward requires careful interpretation, making it primarily suitable for very experienced traders. However, it is noteworthy that just as for backtesting, AmiBroker is significantly faster than its competitors for walk-forward analysis and is capable of making use of up to 32 CPU threads with a Professional license.
Layout and Ease of Use
Despite AmiBroker’s incredibly affordable pricing and immense analytical power, the software isn’t widely in use among even moderately experienced traders. The main reason for this is that the learning curve to beginning to use AmiBroker is extraordinarily steep. There is little effort made within the AmiBroker interface to guide traders through the process of designing a formula or conducting an analysis, and there are almost no pre-defined formulas or functions to get you started.
Instead, you need to sink several weeks’ worth of time – essentially the entirety of the 30-day trial period – into learning the custom coding language and designing multi-parameter formulas. Without diving into these advanced functions, it is difficult to fully assess the versatility of AmiBroker for designing and testing new trading strategies.
AmiBroker’s layout doesn’t alleviate this problem at all, either. The interface is somewhat crowded and the menu buttons are incredibly small, making it hard to even know what options are available. Furthermore, the non-intuitive layout means that you are frequently moving back and forth between unrelated windows – for example, between the formula editor and the analysis screen.
AmiBroker Platform Differentiators
AmiBroker is a tremendously powerful technical analysis and strategy development tool, similar to tools like ThinkorSwim or Ninja. Compared to these programs, AmiBroker is less intuitive but equally if not more versatile. The custom coding language is optimized for efficiency and the modern code editor makes it somewhat easier to work through complex pieces of code. Just as important, AmiBroker’s ability to run analyses off of multiple CPU threads makes this program incredibly fast for scans, backtesting, and walk-forward testing. That speed can be particularly important to day traders and end-of-day traders looking to use AmiBroker to quickly identify trades based on a custom strategy.
What Type of Trader is AmiBroker Best For?
AmiBroker is undoubtedly a tool designed with advanced traders in mind. The software platform is ideally suited for developing and testing custom trading strategies, a use that is relatively limited to the upper echelons of traders. Furthermore, using AmiBroker requires a wealth of patience with the steep learning curve involved and a well-developed knowledge of technical analysis.
That said, AmiBroker is flexible enough to be used over multiple timescales. Day traders and end-of-day traders can benefit from the function-based scans, while long-term investors can also benefit from the backtesting and walk-forward testing features.
- Surprisingly inexpensive for the analysis power included
- Highly versatile technical charts
- Incredibly fast formula-based scans, backtests, and walk-forward tests
- Able to use up to 32 CPU threads with Professional license
- Ability to automatically optimize a strategy based on multiple parameters
- Very steep learning curve to built-in coding language and interface
- Layout does not provide any guidance and menus are extremely small