Author: BobFD
Creation Date: 12/4/2008 11:59 AM
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Throughout all of our lives, there are certain points referred to as "inflextion points" where the decisions we make ultimately "make or break" us. I believe, at least for me personally, that I am in one of those times. Specifically, I am hooked on Strategy Trading, because I believe it removes all emotion from the trade----the greatest enemy of an active trader. However, in my research, I have found all strategy and backtesting tools seriously lacking. Here are several recent observations:

1) WealthLab. It appears the older version, while based on an outdated scripting language, had a much more robust user community and feature set. I realize that the developers of WL have moved to .NET, a very smart move, but it appears this transition is not going very smoothly and that either Fidelity is mismanaging the product by not making the appropriate investments in it, or people have moved on.

2) TradeStation. Awesome concept, but the backtesting and simulations do not even remotely match real time, thus rendering the backtesting tools worthless.

As a developer, I want to commit to a strategy platform and ultimately develop add-ons and other utilities that will benefit the community. I sincerely believe that with an active user community, win/win/win results for everyone.

Does anyone (the few that appear to frequent here), have any opinions on the future of WealthLab? It appears from my observations that Fidelity is not making the necessary investments and resources into this potentially awesome platform, and I am afraid to invest time and resources in the platform if it is dying a slow, underinvested, mismanaged death.

Comments on the future viability of this platform?

Also, has anyone out there found a reliable backtesting and strategy tool that provides serious developers enough hooks to fill in gaps and holes in order to make the product better for everyone?

Sure would be nice if more people used the product. My guess is Fidelity is waiting for more users in order to invest----problem is, that won't happen unless the platform improves sufficiently, and the place for improvements starts right here---from a constructive and active user community.
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Fidelity has and continues to invest quite a lot in Wealth-Lab. Just imagine what it took to complete re-write it into .NET. Actions speak louder than words.
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I feel the same.
I started to tell friends about the wonderful WL community we had few years before and which has completely disappeared. I miss these lively discussions with gbeltrame, fundtimer, gyro, glitch and many others.

Once in a while I stumble upon some old threads and I am always amazed about the way we used to exchange ideas back then.

Don't get me wrong: cone and Eugene do a perfect job, very responsive, helpful, accurate. But the "spirit" of the old days is lost along with many community members who contributed with knowledge and creativity.

I am not sure if a company like Fidelity can stop such a development. People turned away because the product is no longer "independent" and because they are actively locked into a single broker-relationship. Free spirits don't like such things.

On the other hand fidelity is not very open to ideas to support the community besides technically perfect support. I made quite a few suggestions to the people in authority - to no avail. Even the ChartScript Championship which sparked a lot of activity in the old days has stopped.

I know that most of my former buddies here turned to other backtest software. I am quite happy with RightEdge for example.
But there are many of these modern, .Net based packages and its questionable if one of them can develop a user community like we had here before.

Sad story.
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I may or may not be a typical user but here are my thoughts and where I stand.

I first learned about 5.0 at the Las Vegas conference in November 2007. I was and still am excited about WLP 5 and looked forward to having it by Christmas 2007. There were some features missing in 5.0 that I needed to convert from WLP 4. I looked forward to getting a full replacement by Christmas 2008. I am still waiting for a version 5 that is a viable replacement for what I am doing in WLP 4 and I will not get it again this Christmas. I do not feel that I can get serious about 5 until I can more completely convert to it. As a Monday morning quarterback, I feel that it was a mistake to provide a partial product when the full replacement of 4 was literally years away. My main computer quit and I replaced it with a 64 bit machine. I can not use that machine for WLP until the next release and I need to run 4 on one of my other computers. The users of 4 are still waiting for the conversion program that would make it a lot easier to start moving to 5 for those that did not want to totally rewrite all of their scripts.

As for being required to use Fidelity, I moved a couple of accounts to Fidelity when they bought Wealth-Lab and I have been totally satisfied with them meeting my needs.

Cone and Eugene do a great job on this site. They are prompt and give great answers and direction when we encounter problems or issues.

A major problem is that Fidelity is not a part of this site. There are certain issues that require interaction with Fidelity. There is no mechanism to know what is happening at Fidelity. I make a phone call about an issue and it goes into a dark hole. I have no way of knowing anything about the resolution. I find that the people on the phones do a good job but I am never sure what is being passed on when I call with a problem and there is no mechanism for feedback. I believe it would be a big step forward if someone from Fidelity participated in this site.

I have used WL for many years and have been very happy with it. I am sure I will be happy with 5 when I finally get it. 5 should make some things I want to do a lot easier than 4. But if I was evaluating WL anytime in the last year it would be a tough decision to use it. I would have to learn 4, an obsolete system, and wait for 5. Or use a subset of 5 to get started. I believe this period has turned off new users.

I have no way of knowing if the long lead time is lack of resources (and committment?) from Fidelity, unexpected problems in the development phases or lack of good planning. I hope that 5.3 and the conversion program are out soon and that 5.3 is a complete replacement of 4 so we can totally move to 5. Knowing Dion's work, I totally believe that WLP 5 is going to be great when it is fully delivered.
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I have to agree with DrKoch. There was a time when trading ideas, concepts and trader’s experience were part of a continuous exchange, where even controversial ideologies were tossed around here and there. But, I think, those times are gone.

I miss the programming style of fundtimer (over 7000 posts), his interventions, the conciseness and beauty of his code, the way he could transform a concept to code in just minutes, a genius in his own right. gbeltrame, another code virtuoso, with a penchant for the little extra which made a difference. He too could provide brilliant code on demand and with style. I also miss DrKoch’s interventions, his experience and market knowledge of how to survive in a quasi-random environment. I was advised not to mention twiga with his perpetual search, using R, for a reliable forecast and never finding it, so I won’t, nonetheless, I read everything he posted. I should also mention the numerous others that have contributed so many new ideas, new avenues to explore, and that were so generous in providing their time and input.

I think that the new site has been transformed into a kind of newbie support center for Fidelity, no controversy, no new ideas; only some rehash of old questions often ending with read the manual on page xxx or giving a reference to it. The whole sense of community seems to have been drowned under the Fidelity umbrella.

I too agree that version 5 was released before prime time last June. It was so much before prime time that the “soon coming”, even this December, is still the most prevalent page to the menu links. I’ve expressed this before in July; WL4 should have stayed open with, first and foremost, posting still enabled for those wishing to continue with WL4 instead of forcing everyone to immediately adopt the new .net platform. An appropriate transition period was denied users and that was a huge mistake. I know that eventually WL had to evolve but it should have done so WITH its user base and help them, over time, to make the transition to a new language. I imagine that the WL administrators will say that it is exactly what they have been doing.

Over 41 000 people have subscribed to WL, some of the most brilliant people ready to tackle and find an acceptable solution to what to do to improve their own portfolio performance. I know there are many answers to that question, but I think that what we see now, on this site, is not the tip of the iceberg but maybe just a chunk of it that is currently under water.

Bob, you write:

Throughout all of our lives, there are certain points referred to as "inflextion points" where the decisions we make ultimately "make or break" us.

Yes, very true. But it is not the tools that we use that determine those inflection points; it is more often how we use them and what we use them for. WL can do about anything you want, except for a Canadian with a small account.

So, Bob, the commitment should be only on yourself and on what you want to do. The tools are only a way to get there.