NinjaTrader is one of the most popular trading platforms for active traders seeking advanced charting and order execution capabilities. With customizable workspaces, hundreds of pre-built indicators, and advanced automation features, NinjaTrader aims to provide traders the tools they need to execute trades efficiently and analyze price movements.
In this comprehensive NinjaTrader review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this platform and whether it may be a good fit for your trading needs.
Overview of NinjaTrader
NinjaTrader is a Windows-based trading platform built for active traders to analyze markets, build trading strategies, and manage trades. The software is designed for high performance and supports live trading and backtesting for equities, futures, and forex.
Some key features of NinjaTrader include:
- Advanced charting with 100s of indicators and drawing tools
- Market analyzer for visualizing market breadth and sentiment
- Automated trading strategies and development environment
- Trade simulation and backtesting capabilities
- Customizable workspaces and chart templates
- Order management system for executing and tracking trades
- Available as free download for advanced charting
NinjaTrader currently supports connectivity to over 40 brokers and data feeds. Popular brokerages they integrate with include TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers, TradeStation, and FXCM.
The platform is developed and distributed by NinjaTrader Group, LLC based in Denver, Colorado. The software has remained focused on active traders, specifically futures and equities traders, since its initial launch in 2003.
NinjaTrader is available for download directly from their website www.ninjatrader.com. The core trading software is free to use for advanced charting, market analytics, and trade simulation. Live trading capabilities require a paid license starting at $99/month.
Next, we’ll take a deep dive into the features and capabilities of NinjaTrader for market analysis, strategy building, and order execution.
Key Features and Tools
NinjaTrader packs a suite of tools to analyze price action, build automated systems, and manage trade execution. Here are some of the core features and capabilities:
Advanced Charting & Indicators
NinjaTrader aims to provide institutional-level charting packed with flexibility and customization options. Traders can create multiple chart workspaces with tabs for different instruments and timeframes.
The platform includes over 100 pre-built indicators as well as the ability to code custom indicators through C# or NinjaScript. Some of the key indicators and tools include:
- Trend lines, channels, Gann fans and Fibonacci tools
- Moving averages, Bollinger Bands, MACD, RSI, Stochastics
- Volume and market breadth indicators
- Range bars, Renko bars, Kagi bars
- Automated pattern recognition and indicator signals
NinjaTrader charts support an impressive amount of flexibility and personalization for colors, price axes, volume visualization, and more.
Market Analysis & Automated Strategies
In addition to charting tools, NinjaTrader includes advanced features for analyzing market conditions and developing trading systems.
The Market Analyzer module provides real-time market scans to identify potential opportunities based on technical criteria. You can scan for volume patterns, price action events, news catalysts, and more across the major asset classes.
The platform also includes development tools and editors to build automated trading strategies with NinjaScript. You can incorporate complex logic for entries, exits, position sizing, and risk management. There is also an extensive library of pre-built trading strategies and code samples to accelerate system creation.
Once built, strategies can be run in real-time or backtested against historical data. The strategy analyzer provides detailed performance data to fine-tune systems before real money deployment.
Trade Execution & Management
To go from analyzing markets to live trading, NinjaTrader includes advanced order management capabilities. The platform can directly execute trades through connectivity to supported brokers.
The SuperDOM module provides an aggregated depth of market view for discretionary order execution. You can visually see the full order book and click to send orders. SuperDOM includes useful features for active traders like hotkeys, Level II pricing, and real-time P&L calculations.
For automated execution, NinjaTrader strategies can submit orders directly to your broker based on the logic programmed. Stop loss and profit target orders are also supported.
The platform provides trade management tools to monitor all your positions across multiple accounts and brokers in one interface. You can track realized and unrealized performance in real-time as well as account balances and buying power.
NinjaTrader Editions & Pricing
NinjaTrader is available in three main editions suitable for different types of traders:
The free edition of NinjaTrader can be downloaded directly from their website to access charting, market analysis, and simulation features. This is suitable for developing strategies and analyzing price data, but does not support live trading.
The lifetime license unlocks NinjaTrader for live trade execution and order management. This includes connecting your brokerage account to trade directly from the platform. Lifetime licenses are available for a one-time fee.
For short-term access, you can lease a live license starting at $99/month. This still activates full live trading and brokerage connection capabilities. Leasing may make sense to test NinjaTrader with real capital before committing to a lifetime license.
Price: Starting at $99/month
NinjaTrader does not charge any commissions or platform fees outside of the above license options. However, you will still need to pay any applicable brokerage commissions and fees.
Who Should Use NinjaTrader?
NinjaTrader is built for technically-proficient active traders who want advanced analysis tools and trade automation capabilities. The platform is most popular among futures traders given its robust support for that asset class.
Here are the types of traders who may benefit most from NinjaTrader:
- Futures traders – NinjaTrader provides institutional-grade futures trading capabilities from market depth to order execution.
- Day traders and scalpers – Active equity and forex traders can leverage the charting, hotkeys, and screeners.
- Programmatic traders – For fully automated trading, NinjaTrader has strategy development and order management tools.
- Multi-screen users – The platform supports up to four monitors with flexible workspace arrangements.
NinjaTrader may have a steeper learning curve than some platforms given its focus on complex features. Beginner investors who only make occasional trades may be better served by simpler software. But for active traders seeking professional-level capabilities, NinjaTrader delivers a robust package.
Pros and Cons
Let’s explore some of the key advantages and potential downsides to using NinjaTrader for your trading:
- Sophisticated charting and indicator tools rivaling professional platforms
- Extensive trade automation and system development capabilities
- Great support and optimization for futures trading
- Free version available for charting and simulation needs
- Expandability with add-ons and third-party integrations
- Large educational resources and active trader community
- Steep learning curve compared to simpler platforms
- More costly than some competitors for full live trading features
- Primarily desktop-based with limited mobile support
- Limited stock and forex broker support outside of a few key partners
- No built-in scanning for news events or corporate fundamentals
As with most trading platforms, there are trade-offs to its design and functionality based on NinjaTrader’s focus on active futures and short-term traders. For traders outside of that niche, some competing platforms may be a better fit.
One key consideration with NinjaTrader is brokerage compatibility. The platform supports connectivity to over 40 online brokers and market data services.
Some of the most popular brokers and prop firms that integrate with NinjaTrader include:
- Interactive Brokers – Algorithmic trading firm with very low commissions
- TD Ameritrade – Top retail brokerage, parent company of NinjaTrader
- TradeStation – Popular platform for active stock, options, and futures traders
- FXCM – Leading retail forex brokerage
- AMP Futures – Large futures broker with demo accounts
- Dorman Trading – Futures broker and prop trading firm
- Optimus Futures – Popular prop futures firm
Robust connectivity is provided to these select brokerages that align with NinjaTrader’s active trader focus.
If you currently use another broker, you would need to transition accounts if you want to execute directly through NinjaTrader. Some minor brokers or international brokers may not be compatible. But the platform covers most of the major retail trading brokers and prop firms.
For a full list of supported brokers across different continents and asset classes, visit NinjaTrader’s website.
Given its technical nature, NinjaTrader does have a learning curve for new users to get acquainted with its wide range of features.
Luckily, there are extensive educational resources available to master the platform:
- User Manual – 500+ page platform manual covers core concepts and workflows. Good reference guide once familiar with the software.
- Training Videos – Hundreds of narrated demo videos break down platform features and usage. Good for visual learners.
- Live Events – Free live training several times per week provide overview of key topics. Can ask questions of moderators.
- Forums – Busy forums with over 200k posts provides community support getting questions answered. Monitored by NinjaTrader support reps.
- Webinars – Recorded educational webinars on platform skills as well as trading topics like chart patterns or order flow.
- Blog – Regular blog posts and articles on both product education and applied trading strategies.
Between the structured training content and community forums, most users can get up to speed with NinjaTrader fairly quickly. It may take months to master some of the advanced automation and programming capabilities, but you can become productive in the platform in hours to weeks.
Is NinjaTrader Right for You?
NinjaTrader provides professional-level tools for advanced trading, but it’s not right for all traders. Here are a few key questions to see if NinjaTrader may be a good fit:
- What instruments do you trade? – NinjaTrader excels at futures and short-term equities trading, but has limited forex and crypto support.
- What is your trading style? – Active traders who analyze price charts will gain the most from its features. Long-term investors may be better served by other platforms.
- What is your programming skill level? – NinjaTrader allows extensive automation via C# and NinjaScript but does have a learning curve.
- What brokerage do you use? – Check broker compatibility to ensure you can connect your accounts.
- What is your budget? – The lifetime license has a nearly $1,000 upfront cost. The monthly lease can try the software for less initially.
Carefully consider your trading needs and technical requirements before deciding if NinjaTrader will provide the right capabilities. For most active futures, equities, and forex traders, NinjaTrader delivers a robust feature set. But it may be overkill for simple buy-and-hold investing and not support advanced crypto traders.
Analyze how you trade now and what you want to improve to determine if NinjaTrader will unlock the right tools for your strategy. The free platform can test out charting and market analysis capabilities before upgrading to a paid license.
Verdict: Powerful But Pricey for Serious Active Traders
In summary, NinjaTrader provides professional-grade trading tools and extensive automation capabilities unmatched among many retail platforms. The combination of advanced charting, market analytics, strategy building, and order management make it a top choice for active futures traders and those running algorithmic systems.
However, the costs are higher than most platforms both in terms of license fees and the learning curve. And broker support, while wide for futures and US equities, is limited in some asset classes.
For intermediate to advanced traders focused on short-term price action, NinjaTrader delivers a capable package. But more casual investors may prefer cheaper and simpler alternatives.
Given the free platform edition, it’s easy to test NinjaTrader risk-free. The trial lets you gauge the features and workflows before paying for live trading access. Take advantage of the education resources to ramp up and determine if the platform matches your style.
While not right for all traders, those serious about futures or building automated systems should strongly consider test driving NinjaTrader. The combination of powerful functionality and robust broker integrations are hard to beat.
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