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Quick learning guide

The starting point for this guide is the default configuration of SSChart the first time you run it after installation. If you have made configuration changes, the results you get for some of the actions described below may not be as described. Before you make any changes we suggest you go through these steps to quickly familiarize yourself with the most important operating features of SSChart. This is a learn by doing tutorial with minimal explanations. For more detailed information see the program documentation by selecting { Help | Contents } from the program menu. (If documentation does not appear in your browser see this.) If you skip over sections you may not get the same results as described and will probably consume more time in the learning process.

Essential chart manipulations

  1. Start SSChart, there should be two sample charts showing, a daily and an intraday for INTC (intel). The title bar of the chart window shows the ticker symbol followed by the time unit (day) or (5m) for example. There should be data showing in both charts, if not see this.
  2. <left-click> inside one chart, then the other, notice the title bar changes color to indicate which chart is the active window. The main menu selections to modify the chart only affect the active chart window at the time the selection is made.
  3. Point the cursor anywhere inside the daily chart and hold down the left mouse button. The display will change so you can examine price and study values for the column (bar/candle) the mouse pointer is over.
  4. Double click in the chart and the size toggles between full screen and the original size.
  5. <right-click> in either chart and pop-up menu will appear allowing you to make modifications to the chart. From the popup select { Candle Size | Large Candles }. Notice there were hot-keys designated beside the candle-size menu items. These are a quicker way of making the same change. On the keyboard type <shift-M> to use the hot-key to return the medium size candles.
  6. <right-click> in the intraday (5m) chart and use the pop-up menu to change the candle time unit to 15 minutes/candle.
  7. Type the numeral 5 on the keyboard which is the hotkey for 5 minute candles to return the chart to 5 minutes. (If the numeral "5" shows in the upper left corner of the chart and the timeframe does not change, type the <escape> key then the 5 again).
  8. From the main menu select { View | Bottom Pane } to toggle off the bottom window pane in the chart which shows volume. Use the chart pop-up menu (<right-click> in the chart) to toggle the bottom pane back on.
  9. From the main menu select { View | Scale Price Only } to toggle the automatic scaling to exclude studies. Notice any change in the chart scaling. Also notice there is a toolbar button now depressed. <click> on the button to toggle the scaling mode off. When this is off the chart is scaled so that all studies in the price pane show complete in the chart. When studies like a slow moving average are very far from the price, they can effectively cause "zoom-out" from the price bars. Switch this mode on to "zoom-in".
  10. From the main menu select { View | Scale Most Recent Price } to toggle this feature on/off, also notice you can use a keyboard shortcut (Shift+X) or just click on the toolbar button (the one on the right shown here). Now <right-click> on a candle somewhere near the right side of the chart to get the popup menu and select { Select Scale Point }. Notice the effect on scaling. Toggle the toolbar button off/on a few times and observe the effect on scaling. This causes only the data after the selected point to be included in the scaling (vertical range) of the chart. This is most useful when the market gaps to a new price and you want to scale only the most recent data in the view. It might be necessary to have both of the above buttons active to get the desired effect, depending upon what studies are included in the price chart.

Changing symbols

There are at least three different ways to change the symbols in the chart you are viewing. When you change the symbol in the chart, SSChart tries first to retrieve any existing data from its DATA directory. For daily charts, the default action if there is not a data file is to try and retrieve the data over the internet from the currently configured daily data source. If you are connected to the internet and you have not changed the default settings the procedure below should work.

  1. Select the daily chart for INTC (by <left-click>ing in the chart).
  2. We will change the symbol to MSFT. At the keyboard type the letter M. Observe the upper left hand corner of the chart, the letter you typed appears. Complete the symbol by typing SFT<enter>. Observe the main window status bar (the lower left border of the main SSChart window). A message should show data being retrieved for MSFT and within a few seconds the chart should appear. If you type the <esc> key before enter, it clears the characters entered. (Note: Do NOT hold down the shift key while typing, as some <shift><letter> combinations are interpreted as hotkeys. The symbols are forced to uppercase by the program as you type.)
  3. We will use drag-and-drop to move the symbol INTC from the intraday chart to the daily chart.
    1. Point the mouse cursor in the intraday chart.
    2. Hold down the keyboard shift key, and press and hold the left mouse button. (Notice the change in the tail of the cursor, to indicate you are dragging the symbol)
    3. While holding down both the shift key and the mouse button, move the mouse cursor into the daily chart.
    4. Release both the shift key and the mouse button and the symbol is dropped into the daily chart causing it to redraw the chart for INTC.

Opening an SLFMap

The SLF (Stock List File) is a simple text file with a list of ticker symbols in it. We use these in several ways to make watching a group of symbols more convenient. We will open the SLFMap window for the nasdaq100: Go to the SLF toolbar at just below the menus on the main window and select nasdaq100 in the SLF file list text box as shown below. Note if the toolbar appears on two lines, you can move it to one by using the procedure described here.

 

  1. Select nasdaq100 as the current SLF file (as described above).
  2. Select the daily chart (<click> in the chart anywhere).
  3. On the keyboard type <home> (the single key labeled home). This will put the first symbol in the nasdaq100 list file into the chart.
  4. On the keyboard type <Page Down>, this will change the chart to the next in the list. There will be a short pause while the program accesses the configured daily data source to get the data. Once it is downloaded, it is saved to your hard drive so next time you view the symbol, it is immediately available.
  5. Use <Page Up> to go back to the previous symbol.
  6. <click> the update button on the tool bar (the one with the U just to the right of the selector box showing nasdaq100. This starts the download of daily data for the entire SLF list currently showing in the selection box. The main window status bar will show the name of each symbols as the data is being downloaded.
  7. Tomorrow if you <right click> in the daily chart and select { Update } the program will download just the most recent data to bring the chart up to date.
  8. <click> the SLFMap button (the one that looks like the red/green checkerboard in the middle of the set of 5 buttons to the right of the SLF selection box in the toolbar.
  9. This creates an SLFMap window showing the entire nasdaq100 group of stocks.
  10. Resize the SLFMap window to a convenient size and move its location so you can see both it and the two open charts.
  11. Point the mouse at one of the cells (individual boxes with a symbol) in the SLFMap just opened and hold down the left mouse button. (Cursor changes to indicate drag-and-drop of symbol is active). Drag the symbol to the daily chart and drop it. (Note drag-and-drop from one chart to another required you to hold down the shift key because the left click action without the shift is assigned to bring up the price inspection display).

Create an SLF list with your symbols

If you are tracking more than one symbol, the most efficient way to handle this in SSChart is to create one or more new SLF list with your symbols. We will do this now.

  1. Select { File | New } from the main menu.
  2. In the dialog that appears, select SLFMap Window and <click> OK.
  3. A new empty SLFMap window appears.
  4. Resize the window to a manageable size.
  5. Type a new symbol at the keyboard followed by <enter> to add a symbol.
  6. Use drag-and-drop from the nasdaq100 SLFMap or the charts, or type more symbols, until you have added the symbols you desire.
  7. Select { File | Save SLFMap as } from the main menu, give your new slf list a name and <click> [Save].
  8. Go to the SLF selector text box on the toolbar and find the name of the SLF list you just saved and select it.
  9. <click> on the SLFMap button on the toolbar again and create another copy of your SLFMap.
  10. No need to have two of the same maps open at once, so close one of them.

Retrieving quotes and intraday data

The source of quotes depends on the Quote Data source selected under the { Data | Internet sources...} menu item. The following assumes you have not changed it since installation.

  1. <click> the quote collection button (or select { Data | Continuous quotes } from the menu).
  2. The program will start polling for quotes for all symbols defined in your layout. (This listed in charts, SLFMaps, or other windows you created).
  3. Within a few seconds, the quotes should start arriving and the SLFMap will become colored to show the percentage change from previous close for each stock listed. If the market is currently open the intraday chart will also start updating. Note you will not get backfill with the default free quote source. Backfill of intraday data is only available with the myTrack subscription or when using IB TWS. (Note: Some free intraday backfill is now available).
  4. To keep collecting data you need to leave the quote collection on for the period you want data for. You also need to have some window with the symbols you want data for open at all times. (You can minimize it and it will still be open, just don't close it). The SLFMap is the best vehicle for keep the symbols open and collecting data for everything you want. You can easily drag symbols to your charts from there or use the keyboard <Page Up> <Page Down> keys to scroll through the list.

Saving your page layout

Each time you exit SSChart the layout (windows and symbols open, and position of each) is saved to the currently page layout file. The first time you run, you are using the default layout pages.ssc. We recommend you save your page layout it this time to another name. (You can create several layouts and switch from one to another by loading the new named layout). By using a different name you will avoid having your layout overwritten during an upgrade to a later version of SSChart in the future.

  1. Select { File | Save Page Layout...} from the main menu.
  2. Change the File name field to the name of your new layout (the extension must be .ssc and will be added automatically if you give a name without an extension).
  3. This now becomes the current layout, and will be saved every time you exit the program and reloaded automatically every time you restart until you select a different layout.

Conclusion

At this point you should be able to make use of some of the more important features of SSChart. There are still several important topics we have not mentioned, which you should look up in the program documentation. We use this software ourselves for trading and have made great efforts to make use quick and efficient, but its only going to be quick and efficient for you once you learn how to use it. Some of the features are the result of suggestions by others. Let us know if there is something you are looking for that we don't have, we may be able to add it to a future release.

Continued study

It would be worthwhile at this point to study the following topics in the program documentation:

  • Customizing charts
  • Saving your customized chart as a favorite
  • Using favorites to instantly duplicate you customized chart
  • Quick alerts
  • HorseRace charts
  • Selecting the data source
  • Graphical Trading

 

Information Displayed by the Candlestick

   Each candle in the price pane of the chart represents 4 pieces of information, namely: the OPEN, HIGH, LOW, and CLOSE price of the stock for that time interval.The candle body extends from the Opening to the Closing price, and the "wick" (officially known as the "shadow") extends from the High to the Low price.

The candle body is further color coded to indicate the direction of price movement. The original Japanese candlestick chart technique would draw rising price with a hollow body and falling price with a solid body. We have set the default colors to what we feel is more instantly recognizable (in the west at least). Rising prices have a GREEN body, and declining prices a RED body. There is plenty of detailed information on the web already about interpreting candlestick charts, so we will not repeat it all here. Instead try a web search or check for books on the subject at amazon.

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Last Revised Wednesday, 25-Feb-2009 17:00:03 EST
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