When you find something that really works, it’s nice to pass it on. That’s why I decided to do this review of NinjaTrader.
Everyone knows that a trader’s trading software interface is a critical component of a smoothly running trading operation. But why is that?
Traders, especially intraday day traders, need a platform through which they can:
- Analyze the market
- Initiate trades
- Manage those trades
- Efficiently keep track of the trades that occurred
There are many market analysis and order entry software platforms available. Some of them integrate the analysis with trading functionality. Others are the tied to a single brokerage. The choices quickly get overwhelming.
For the past 20 years I have tested many different interfaces. I’ve opened brokerage accounts that I don’t need just to see if the associated software had any unique benefits. It’s been s a costly but interesting, and now I want you to benefit from my ongoing experiment.
And The Winner Is…
For the past 10 years, there has been one standout. When I discovered NinjaTrader a decade ago I was hooked. It was free and still is. The paid version is also very worthwhile. I will get to that soon.
In this review, I will share the reasons that have kept me using version 7 of Ninja as my primary interface. Other platforms have come and gone and still others continue to get their turn at bat. Through that process, so far NinjaTrader still maintains the lead spot.
It’s a great product for novices, amateurs and professionals alike.
Enough of the generalities. Let’s drill down into the specifics of why this trading software platform is a must for the serious trader.
Traders just starting out know that every dollar counts. It is disheartening to know that a primary mission-critical tool is consistently costing money. NinjaTrader does away with that issue.
Anyone can download the software for free and start using it right away. Data is available from external sources which can be either free or paid.
This is such a huge benefit that it should not be ignored. Especially for traders just starting out, free is fantastic.
One of the enormous benefits of using NinjaTrader is the support. Their online forums are full of information and keep on growing over time.
Advanced questions get answers just as fast and clearly as a beginner’s “how do I_______?” questions. For example, you can get feedback on how to program a strategy in Ninjascript for backtesting. You can also get help just setting up your software.
Both experienced users and members of the NinjaTrader office are always a fantastic help in the forums.
The NinjaTrader platform has settings that make it extremely customizable. Everything from chart sizes, colors and watchlists can be set to be exactly the way that you want them to look.
These customizations even go to the extent of limiting the amount of data loaded into your chart. If you want charts to load faster, you can set that up. For example, let’s say you never look more than 2 days back (an eternity for day traders). You can set your charts to only pull 2 days worth of data. That makes them load lightning fast. Anyone who has waited for a chart to load at a critical moment will know why this is such a key benefit.
This saves load times and is much more efficient than most platforms.
This feature is huge for new traders. I am a huge advocate of paper trading. NinjaTrader has a fantastic built-in simulation that allows for simulated trades to be made so that overall performance results can be tracked and evaluated.
Remember that the software platform is available for free. The free version has everything a new trader needs before going live in the market. It is a perfect practicing ground.
“Use Ninja to paper trade real-time before you risk any money in live markets. “
To add to this real-time paper trading is the market replay feature. This feature allows traders to test their skills by replaying past segments of market activity. Practicing trading strategies at different times can be a huge benefit when trying to gauge your effectiveness at deploying a strategy in fast markets, or in conditions different from the norm.
Able traders know that trade management is just as important as the entry itself. What you do after the initial trade executes matters.
NinjaTrader offers a broad range of tools broadly categorized as ATM (Advanced Trade Management). NinjaTrader ATM strategies include being able to:
- Attach a stoploss order to your initial order
- Attach a profit target to your initial order
- Submit OCO (One Cancels Other) orders – e.g. a stop order gets canceled if the profit target fills
- Have orders automatically update based on a multi-stage trailing stop
- Predefined break even stop loss entry
- First In First Out option (more an accounting consideration yet extremely useful when scaling in and out of positions)
ATM is a fantastic feature in NinjaTrader. Can a trader do all of these things manually the way it was in the distant past? Sure. However, a good question is why you would want to when Ninja saves you all the trouble so that you can focus on the more important aspects of trading.
NinjaTrader is not broker-neutral. In 2014 they acquired Mirus Futures and entered the futures brokerage business themselves. They clearly lean towards their namesake service. I support their choice. NinjaTrader Brokerage has great commissions and execution.
However, the feature I care more about is that they continue to have is multi-broker availability. The NinjaTrader platform is compatible with:
- NinjaTrader Brokerage
- TD Ameritrade
- Interactive Brokers
Multi-broker accessibility is fantastic for several reasons. First, competition leads to better service and pricing. Second, it is good planning to have a backup for placing orders. Third, trader stress diminishes when making the switch from one brokerage to another if the interface looks the same.
NinjaTrader is compatible with an impressive variety of data providers. The list on their website shows:
- Google Finance
- Text file based historical data import
- Yahoo Finance
- Metastock Import
Kinetic is the one that is recommended and showcased on NinjaTrader’s website. After having experimented with five of the others, Kinetic comes out as both the performance and value winner for me.
Putting my preference for Kinetick aside, the flexibility in choice is what I love about this feature. If you want to use a free data source, they will let you do that. It is a huge benefit to traders who are on a budget while they learn and one of the many reasons I recommend NinjaTrader to others independent of where they are in their trading journey.
Late 2016 saw the first full release of NinjaTrader 8. It has a proclaimed 500 features and enhancements. I have tried it and can attest to the fact that some of the new features and the overall look and feel of version 8 of the platform is quite appealing.
However, readers of Wealthy Day Trading know that I am a longtime user and advocate of TAS Market Profile tools. NinjaTrader 8 was such a major upgrade that indicators and analysis tools created for version 7 will do not work with NinjaTrader 8.
NinjaTrader 7 is still fully supported and enjoyed by many traders including myself. I will reserve my full review of NinjaTrader 8 until a time when my TAS Market Profile tools become available there.
Paid Versions of NinjaTrader
There are several ways to get NinjaTrader.
The free version is simple to download and start using. You are one e-mail address away from qualifying. The free version allows you to do a large part of what a trading platform should do.
Paying for the platform allows you to connect NinjaTrader to the broker of your choice as mentioned above. Paying allows you to submit and manage orders through the platform instead of having to do filtering and analysis on NinjaTrader and then using your broker’s interface to enter the orders.
There are several pricing options. The one that resonates the best with me is the one-time payment. I paid for NinjaTrader once many years ago and hadn’t had to think about it since then.
Finally, clients of NinjaTrader Brokerage can access all of the features of the NinjaTrader platform.
The fact that a fully functional version of NinjaTrader is available completely free is a dream. You only pay when it is time to risk money. Actually, you only pay when you want to risk money CONVENIENTLY. There’s nothing to say that you cannot use NinjaTrader totally free and enter your orders separately. The automation and safety that gets achieved through the ATM strategies is a significant benefit in trading. They are not a requirement. The pricing structure makes those benefits an absolute bargain.
I look forward to reviewing and recommending NinjaTrader 8 when it meets my trading needs. Until then NinjaTrader 7 is a solid cornerstone to my trading. I am confident that it can be for you as well.
Full disclosure: Over the past 2 years I have had relationships with companies that do business with NinjaTrader. However, I do not get compensated for reviewing or recommending NinjaTrader, Kinetic or any of their business partners. My choice to use them as part of my trading operation is strictly based on the benefits that the features of their service provide me as an independent and retail trader. I would wholeheartedly recommend them even if none of the relationships existed – just like I recommended Ninjatrader for the 8-year lead-up.
For more day trading techniques, tools & strategies, check out these articles:
- TAS Market Profile: Review Of TAS Trading Software
- Interactive Brokers: Review (Why It’s My #1 Pick)
- 5 Ways To Bulletproof Your Forex Entries
NinjaTrader 7 is a fantastic platform with a host of empowering features. It has been my primary platform for the past 10 years and continues to serve me well.
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