Sierra Chart Review
Ease of Use
If trading is your game then you may have heard of Sierra Chart. A financial market charting, analysis, and trading software platform, Sierra Chart claims to give its users access to tons of flexible features and tools. Before you jump on the Sierra Chart train, make sure to read our review to learn everything you need to know.
Introduction To Sierra Chart
Sierra Chart is a financial market charting, analysis, and trading software platform with flexible tools and features that enable manual and automated trading integration with external online brokers. The platform enables technical analysis and trading with equities, options, bonds, Forex, commodities and cryptocurrencies. Users can select their own data providers or subscribe directly through Sierra Chart. The software can be used as a standalone platform or as an add-on to existing compatible online brokerage accounts, very much like MultiCharts and NinjaTrader. Sierra Chart has built up a long-term loyal following of technical traders, chartists and coders. The depth of the tools will appeal mostly to those with a coding background as the clunky set-up process can be a turn off for beginners.
Sierra Chart Pricing Options
Using Sierra Charts requires paying for the software license and the real-time data feeds. There are two tiers of service, the Standard and the Advanced service packages.
The Standard Service includes the basic charting and free historical data (delayed by a day) for $26-per month with discounts applied to 3, 6 and 12-month packages.
The Advanced Service is $36-per month and comes with the advanced charting with all technical studies. I highly recommend this package. Discounts apply when purchasing multiple months in increments of 3-months, 6-months and 12-months for 10%, 20% and 30% discounts accordingly.
The flexibility of features is best taken advantage of by users with an affinity and background in coding, analytics and back-testing. Once users get through the set-up and configuration process, things move more smoothly but still require a bit of manual labor to run the features.
The charts are the core function of Sierra Charts and with the right configurations, they can run with amazing precision. The basic OHLC, mountain and candlestick charts are available along with customizable time frames as small as a single tick to months. The more sophisticated user base gravitates towards utilizing data in favor of more complex profile charts like market, volume and even numbers (footprint) charts.
It takes some tweaking to get these charts customized to your preferences. Users must save their formatted charts into a chartbook, which functions like a template. Again, clunky at first, but the chartbook is actually very useful in creating multiple time frame layouts that are tiled in so many different combinations complete with personalized settings. In fact, with the right tweaking, Sierra Charts provides amazing customization at a steep discount to similar deep platforms. The charts also have a replay feature which I find useful for training my eyes for patterns and spreadsheet study for analytics.
Sierra Chart has a ton (over 300) of basic and unique technical indicators aka technical studies that are fully customizable. To get access to the full spectrum, users need the Advanced Charting Package license, which is well worth it. For example, most traders are familiar with the basic versions of common studies of moving averages like simple, weighted, exponential versions of moving averages. However, rarely do you find exotic tweaked versions like Triangular, Adaptive Binary Wave, Zero Lag Exponential, Sine-Wave Weighted or Welles Wilders moving averages. I learned many new indicators on this platform. Sierra Charts does an excellent job of explaining each study and the step-by-step directions for integrating and configuring into your charts.
This is one of my new favorite studies that are not found on mainstream trading platforms. It also demonstrates the caliber of sophistication the Sierra Chart. The Numbers Bars provide insights into the volume footprints and their effect on price action. Each price bar is composed of volume data at each price level. Users can select the data including net bid to ask volume (cumulative delta), total volume, total trades and various other metrics along with splicing multiple bars within a price bar with numerous color combinations on intra-day charts. I find the cumulative delta can be insightful in gauging the validity of price breakouts and breakdowns in conjunction with other indicators.
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Market Depth Historical Graph
This is another example of another unique configurable study that basically overlays a real-time heat map that visualizes the Depth-of-Market (DOM) on a bar chart. It provides a solid visual of support and resistance based on bid/ask data.
I combined these three functions because they are integrated in terms of utility. Sierra Chart doesn’t provide a scanner tool that will filter the markets for pattern signals. Instead, it enables users to add or upload symbols to associated watch list which can be scanned for various price or pattern-based triggers. Keep in mind, each ticker symbol must be downloaded onto your hard drive and then all the data for the time periods. This can be super slow if scanning more than a dozen symbols. Frankly, the importing of symbols off an Excel spreadsheet is prehistoric. It’s more of a contained screener, which you can set-up alerts. Keep in mind this can be a resource hog based on the size of your watch lists. I highly suggest bulking up your RAM and having a multi-core processor to handle all the number crunching.
Order Entry/Compatible Brokers
Sierra Chart enables chart overlays directly onto the DOM execution windows enabling simultaneous analysis and trade executions. There are over 30-types of executions from DOM to on-chart orders and direct access routing options with compatible brokers. Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade are best suited for equities, futures and options traders.
Customization and Saved Layouts
It goes without saying (again) that customization of charts and studies is the core strength of Sierra Chart. However, this takes a bit of patience and effort for those willing to put in the time. Once configured, the can be used, duplicated, tweaked and integrated into various templates (chart books) and layouts.
Sierra Chart Platform Differentiators
Sierra Chart is an ‘old school’ platform launched in 1995 that grew its’ base of sophisticated users that prefer to manually customize their tools and processes. It doesn’t follow the template of fancy cloud-based fintech applications where simplicity and aesthetically pleasing dashboards and interfaces are the norm. In fact, it’s completely opposite and ideal for those who want to get their hands ‘dirty’ to learn the mechanics of each indicator and go through the rigorous process of experimenting, back-testing and validating systems.
What Type of Trader Sierra Chart Is Best For
Seasoned quant chartists with coding backgrounds will appreciate the deep functionality of the software. There is a learning curve and manual set-up involved to get the software running smoothly. It’s not as integrated as Tradingview, which handles data feeds and set-up automatically through the cloud. Beginners will find the interface clunky and outdated. However, since the software resides on your own computer system, it’s incredibly fast and as stable as your data feed.
- Basic to Sophisticated Technical Studies like Numbers Bars can be deeply customized
- Deep level of customization and codability for almost every chart and indicator
- Great value for the money (real-time data feeds are extra)
- Super-fast since the software resides on your system (beef up your RAM)
- Excellent customer support and helpful community of users
- Virtually any global trading instrument can be charted
- Clunky outdated interface for traders used to a cloud-based platform
- Can be a resource hog for older PCs especially intra-day scans are slow
1 thought on “Sierra Chart Review – An “Old School” Charting Platform”
The reviewer provides a cryptic, but I believe an accurate review of the software. It is truly written for a coder who has the patience to wade through the excellent documentation to attempt to understand the configuration options. The company must do exhaustive testing because the platform is remarkably stable. I will mention aspects of the software that the reviewer did not cover, and I appreciated the brevity and honesty of the evaluation – I trust this reviewer’s opinions based on this review.
+Detailed and very accessible, with a search engine that usually finds answers pertinent to the query, and filters out redundancy.
+Last update date is included on every page
+Actively maintained and updated
-A mathematics professor who speaks modern algebra accent writes the documentation: “It is required if the Header is specified to be required”; “There are cases where it is necessary… “; “It is supported to modify a study…”
-Hyperlinks abound with details. The thoroughness is more important to the authors than ease of reading. Absent is what could be briefly summarized like a newspaper style, with more detailed (and appreciated) explanations left to later paragraphs.
-Examples and illustrations are sometimes present, but there does not seem to be a criterion for when an example is necessary.
+Direct Support is available in 4 layers: Support desk operated by Sierra Chart, User discussion, Programming help, and account support. All these levels are generally quick to respond to problems or questions.
-Rules for posting are required to be adequately detailed and compliant to a set of criteria. If you are not willing to spend the time wading through the complete documentation, answers can be downright dismissive and disrespectful. It sometimes feels like a puny elder in a gym of competitive bodybuilders.