TradeStation closes its TradingApp® Store. What’s next?

A few months ago, TradeStation® announced their decision to, after 8 years of operation, close TradingApp® Store.  At the end of September 2022 all the Tradestation indicators, apps and trading strategies provided by hundreds of developers ceased to work. Today we’ll talk to guys from Advantage Trading, one of the TradingApp® Store developers, about what it means to them and for all active subscribers.

Hello, thank you for accepting our invitation. Can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Hi, no problem. Thanks for having us.

There’s two of us, we share a common passion for trading, mostly algorithmic trading. We have accumulated several dozens of thousands of hours of experience, working with charts, gathering and processing data, programming Tradestation indicators and strategies and constantly educating ourselves. For both of us it started with technical analysis, but evolved towards systematic trading.

TradeStation TradingApp

Interesting. When, and why, did you decide to join TradingApp® Store?

We applied to join TradingApp® Store in 2019. First, we were qualified as Open Platform Developer, which meant, that we could upload our products to TradingApp® Store, but they would not be listed on the main webpage. The condition to get upgraded to TradingApp® Store Developer program was having a minimum of 10 contemporaneous subscriptions to our products. It took us a long time and lots of work, because we didn’t get upgraded until spring of 2020.

Wow! That long?!

Well, yes… First, we had to provide content, and we spend a lot of time programming Tradestation indicators and strategies. Of course, we didn’t start from scratch, but there’s a big difference between coding something for yourself, and coding for someone, who does not know your rationale and what your product does. Inputs names have to be crystal clear; you need to take screenshots of different uses of the indicator, write a detailed manual, and at the very end spread the word about it. And since we are perfectionists, there’s always something that can be done better.

OK, I got your point. It looks like for many months your income stream was nonexistent, right? Why did you even want to go through all that hassle?

That’s right.

Why did we do it…? You already noticed, that money is not the primary driver. We know, that we know a lot about markets, price behavior, trends and types of different approaches. Cleaning the codes of our proprietary Tradestation indicators and combining them into trading strategies was the work we decided to perform in 2017-2018. So, to some extent, joining TradingApp® Store was a byproduct of what we decided to do for ourselves.

Our subscribers and users that used our free-trial period know, that we do not push sales. We were the only developer that was giving 60-day trial period, plus we had two really successful free products.

Successful? What do you mean by that?

Between two of our free products, we have almost 2 thousand subscribers, and for multiple weeks one or the other was the most popular strategy subscribed by TradeStation® clients. In February and March 2022, we were gaining a lot of momentum, because our subscribers grew by more than 100 a month. It was our best time in TradingApp® Store, because more and more people were choosing our paid products as well. And at the end of March we received an e-mail stating, that it will all disappear.

What did it say? Did you get any explanation?

No, it simply outlined the timeline of a gradual shutdown.

Definitely not the best news to get when you start to flourish…

Yep. At first, us and others developers that we talked to, were shocked and angry. But since we couldn’t do anything about it, we decided to move on. We started building our in-house distribution system, so our existing subscribers wouldn’t lose access to indicators and strategies.

Do you know what other developers are doing?

Yes, we checked websites of couple developers. But what truly matters is what the largest developers will do. Largest judged by number of subscribers. Most popular Tradestation indicators or strategies are free ones. Our “educated guess” is that the entire number of active subscriptions was up to 100 000. Some users probably don’t even remember that they subscribed something, or simply didn’t bother to unsubscribe since there is no fee. Some developers stopped maintaining their products, but it still leaves a rather large population of users and developers, that will be affected by this change.

So, what are the existing or proposed solutions?

One approach that we saw among other developers is switching to TadingView. Tradestation account can be integrated with TradingView platform, so developers translated their EasyLanguage code to encrypted PineScript files. Pine Script is a programming language used in TradingView. But by doing it, trader needs to use TradingView for charting.

Other path that we saw is to use encrypted .ELD files (.ELD is an extension of EasyLanguage file), that sometimes needs other verification i.e. they will work only for a given Customer Number.

We’re sure that some developers will simply give up, because the effort needed to keep products functional will be too big.

We chose another solution. Key parts of our code will be kept in .DLL file, that is extremely hard to hack. It will perform crucial calculations for encrypted .ELD files, and it will also check if Customer ID is active in the file kept on our server. We think it’s the most robust solution for us, because we want to protect our work. It will also let us provide functions for most advanced users, so they can use them while building trading strategy.

Are you guys done? Is it all ready?

Yes. We managed to get all indicators done. Next step is getting the strategies ready, but this part should be easier. They are built around our proprietary indicators, so the bulk of work is already done. We know, that the work is actually never done – you get one thing done, two or three others issues emerge.

Thanks, looks like one can only get 98% done – there’s always something else to do…

What do you think will happen within the next couple of months, after TradingApp® Store becomes inactive?

You can look at this question from several angles. First one is the next move from TradeStation®. Will they offer something else for their customers? We simply have no clue, what was the reason behind their decision, and don’t know what will come next. It will be interesting to watch.

The second part to talk about are clients. We can safely assume, that traders choose TradeStation® because their platform is one of the best tools out there. There are others brokers that are cheaper, have better mobile apps, better customer service or offer others nice, but not necessarily so useful features. Therefore, some clients might get angry or disappointed at first, but we don’t believe that it will have a huge impact on their decisions about staying or leaving. People who were educating themselves and were looking for better tolls will continue doing so. And this brings us to the third part of the puzzle – developers. Majority of smaller developer will simply give up. Some leaders chose to migrate to TradingView. Depending on a source, TradingView has millions of active users, so the potential client base for developers is huge. But on the other hand, the number of developers trying to sell their products is also large. Plus, there is a lot of free stuff created by users from around the world. At the end, there’s a small group of developers like us – the ones that decided to keep offering their services via TradeStation® platform. For a client, it will be harder to find our products, because they will not be accessible as easily as before. From the other hand, the client looking for an indicator or a strategy already knows what is she looking for, and how to use it. So, we as a developer, will have to focus on our marketing and education. And maybe one day, add another trading platform to our portfolio.

Yes, it will be also interesting to see, what will happen with clientele of online brokers and crypto traders if we’ll have a prolonged bear market in crypto and equities…

Great observation! Bear markets in all asset classes are inevitable, so we’ll see how many traders will survive it.

Guys, it was great talking to you. Good luck with transition!

Thank you.

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