Sierra Chart Review
Ease of Use
If you’re a trader, you may have come across Sierra Chart. Sierra Chart is a charting, technical analysis, and live trading platform made for traders at any and all levels. With customizable charts, live trading, and more could Sierra Chart be what your trading needs? Wait, before you buy, read our thorough review of Sierra Chart.
- Highly customizable charts and layout
- More than 300 built-in studies and technical analyses
- Includes depth of market analysis and live trading
- Comes with real-time data for forex trading
- C++-based code editor allows infinite customization and is highly efficient
- Requires external data sources for most real-time data
- Steep learning curve for ASCIL code interface
About Sierra Chart
Sierra Chart is a highly capable charting, technical analysis, and live trading platform for traders of all levels. The platform provides an enormous number of tools for analyzing stocks, forex, commodities, options, and more, and puts an emphasis on efficiency and performance when making complex analyses. Sierra Chart stands out from competitors like TradingView and ThinkorSwim by offering its huge suite of analysis tools at a highly affordable price.
How Much Does Sierra Chart Cost?
Sierra Chart is highly affordable and comes in two subscription tiers. Service Package 3 is the standard subscription and includes all of Sierra Chart’s features except for Time-Price Opportunity profile charts, number bars, historical market depth, and interactive drawing tools for volume charts. This package starts at $26 per month for a monthly subscription and is discounted to $18.20 per month for an annual subscription.
Service Package 5 includes those additional charting features that are restricted with a standard subscription. This tier costs $36 per month on a month-to-month basis or $25.20 per month if paid annually.
Sierra Chart offers a 15-day free trial for the software, during which time all features are unlocked.
Keep in mind that Sierra Chart is designed to work with external data sources, some of which you will need to subscribe to separately. Sierra Chart subscriptions include historical data for stocks that runs 10-15 minutes behind real-time, but real-time stock data must be purchased elsewhere. Sierra Chart does come with real-time data for forex trading.
Sierra Chart Features
Traders come to Sierra Chart for the platform’s highly versatile charts, which rival those found in TradingView and ThinkorSwim. Basic charts in Sierra Chart are not fancy, but they are highly customizable. The chart settings window contains three pages’ worth of “Advanced Settings,” allowing you to change far more than just basic things like bar type and color coding. With Sierra Chart, you can filter bars by volume, apply real-time and historical price multipliers, and draw depth of market graphs directly on charts. Getting the hang of charting in Sierra Chart requires overcoming the program’s learning curve, but there is extensive documentation on all of the chart options available.
Sierra Chart also comes loaded with more than 300 technical studies, almost all of which can be overlaid onto existing charts. Adding and removing chart elements is simple and intuitive, which is an advantage for those just starting out with this program. Customizing studies is less straightforward, primarily because the studies editor window uses a spreadsheet-style coder for inputting study parameters. However, once you get the hang of this, you can easily create custom studies and save them for later application.
Finally, Sierra Chart includes a wide array of drawing tools. You’ll find everything needed for Fibonacci and price retracements as well as Gann analysis. A multitude of other tools allow you to annotate your charts, including with text notes.
Trading Depth of Market
Sierra Chart includes historical depth of market data for all major exchanges. This data can be graphed directly on top of a chart, or traders can study depth of market directly using an additional window. If you have your Sierra Chart account connected to a brokerage, it’s possible to place trades directly from the depth of market interface.
Advanced Custom Study/System Interface and Language
What makes Sierra Chart one of the most powerful trading analysis tools available is the Advanced Custom Study/System Interface and Language (ASCIL) tool. This is a C++-based interface that allows you to build custom technical studies and automated trading routines. The possibilities are somewhat unlimited, and the fact that Sierra Chart built this interface in C++ means that it executes extremely fast and efficiently.
ASCIL allows you to use the entire C++ language to build your studies or routines, but you also have access to Sierra Chart’s existing study files. These can be used as shorthand for building your own analyses, as it’s relatively straightforward to reset the parameters for any existing studies in your code. The main advantage of the C++ language is that it gives you the ability to create complex for and if loops.
Still, working with ASCIL requires overcoming a significant learning curve. Sierra Chart provides code examples and documentation, but it is highly advised that you have experience with C++ before working with ASCIL.
Code editing is done in Notepad++ by default, although other text editors can be used as well. Once finished, you can compile your code within Sierra Chart and it will become available as a custom study or routine within the program.
Sierra Chart Platform
Sierra Chart provides a virtually unlimited amount of customization. If you can’t find a customization option for your chart already available within the chart settings menu, you can use ASCIL to create a study that provides that customization or to edit the existing settings.
Additionally, you have plenty of options when it comes to determining how you would like Sierra Chart to display information. There are several automatic functions for tiling multiple charts and windows. You can also detach chart windows from the main screen to take advantage of multiple monitors. Especially if you are editing ASCIL code (which opens in a text editor outside of Sierra Chart), having multiple monitors is highly recommended.
Compatible Data Sources
Sierra Chart comes with a relatively limited number of data sources – you receive historical stock data, real-time forex data, and real-time cryptocurrency data. If you need real-time stock data, data for options trading, or data for commodities or lesser known markets, you’ll need to purchase it outside of Sierra Chart and link your data service. Sierra Chart is compatible with most major trading data firms, including Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, and LMAX Exchange, and any other text-based data feed.
Sierra Chart is compatible with a number of brokerages that cater to advanced traders, including Discount Trading, Interactive Brokers, Advantage Futures, TradePro, Zaner, and more.
How Does Sierra Chart Stand Out?
Sierra Chart offers impressively customizable charts out of the box, with more than 300 default studies that can be added to charts. It also offers depth of market analysis and the ability to trade live through a wide variety of brokers.
But what really sets Sierra Chart apart from competitors like ThinkorSwim is the inclusion of the C++-based ASCIL interface. Where ThinkorSwim gives traders a lot of leeway to build custom studies using the program’s built-in language, ASCIL allows traders to not only use Sierra Chart’s existing studies but also the entirety of the C++ language. Since ASCIL is compiled in C++, it is faster and more computationally efficient than almost any other custom routine and study builder at this price point. This is a game-changer for traders looking to gain an edge on the market or to put together an automated trading routine.
Is Sierra Chart Right For you?
Sierra Chart is designed with advanced day and short-term traders in mind as well as futures and forex traders. It is particularly built for those who are looking to develop custom trading strategies or to automate existing strategies. The platform requires experience with linking external data sources, and live trading is only available through low-cost brokerages that cater to stock day traders and futures traders, so beginning traders will find themselves running into significant difficulties using Sierra Chart. On top of that, traders need to be patient with the program’s learning curve, especially if they need to become familiar with the C++ coding language in order to write custom studies and routines in ASCIL.