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How Might Your Strategy Fare? Backtest with thinkOnDemand®

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October 24, 2012

Imagine being able to play back a recording of the market, place trades, and see how those trades might have fared in intraday action. thinkOnDemand from TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim® platform is a powerful back-testing tool that lets you replay a trading day and evaluate your trading skills with simulated trades based on that data.

Why Does It Matter?

You can use thinkOnDemand to put your ideas against some of the toughest market conditions. Want to see how your trades looked around past Fed and earnings announcements? You can. And, after the next market-moving event, you’ll be able to review how you responded. 

How Does It Work?

  • Use thinkOnDemand only in the Live Trading version (not on paperMoney®)
  • Find historical data as far back as 12/06/2009
  • Run the platform 24/7, even on nights and weekends
  • Watch tick-by-tick price changes for stocks, futures, forex, and options
  • Simulate trading stock, options, futures, and forex just as you would in a live trading account, except with historical rather than real-time data
  • Watch the profit or loss of the simulated positions on the Position Statement as the trading day proceeds, or fast forward to another date
thinkOnDemand Button

FIGURE 1 The first step in initializing thinkOnDemand is to click on the "OnDemand" icon, found in the upper-right corner. For illustrative purposes only. 

Imagine being able to DVR the markets’ every move. Every stock tick. Every chart. Every bump in the road. Then imagine playing the recording back in order to place trades and see how you might have fared—intraday.

Enter: thinkOnDemand - Yes, we’re completely nuts, but we started recording every conceivable stock, futures, options, and forex tick since December 7, 2009. Did we say everything? Yes, everything, including Level 2 quotes for every exchange. In short, thinkOnDemand is one beast of a database.

To get started, simply click the orange box that reads OnDemand at the top right of the main window of thinkorswim.

Once you click OnDemand, parts of your thinkorswim platform will turn orange as a visual indicator that you’re not trading live money…but paper money. Your ACCOUNT INFO box will turn into a control panel of sorts as pictured:

thinkOnDemand Virtualization Mode

FIGURE 2 Your account moves into “virtualization” mode. Select the desired time period in the upper-left corner. For illustrative purposes only. 

Initially you may see the word “Prebuffering” next to “Connection Status.” This means the system is loading data to help it run more smoothly throughout the “trading day.” Once it’s done, it will simply read “OnDemand.”

You can use thinkOnDemand to test your mettle against some of the toughest market conditions. Want to see how well you can trade around Fed announcements? Earnings reports? The so-called “Flash Crash” (which occurred intraday, mind you)? thinkOnDemand represents the best way to get some practice rounds in for the next time such an event takes place.

This is a powerful approach to learning. Think about the following scenario: The market opens, rises dramatically, drops dramatically, and rallies back to settle near the opening print. From the point of view of someone using end-of-day data, this would seem like a fairly uneventful day. However, someone who was actually trading that day would beg to differ with you, having just been whipsawed out of their positions on stops that were more liberal than your own.

Once your date is set, you simply “trade” on the thinkorswim platform as if it were the current live trading day. Just as a flight simulator is to training pilots, this is as close to the real deal as it gets, without putting actual money at risk.

At any time, you can check how far along in the trading day you are by looking at the “Date and Time” in the ACCOUNT INFO box in the previous picture.

It’s important to note that when you place an order on the OnDemand module, your order confirmation window will indicate that this is a thinkOnDemand order. Before you call us pleading and swearing that you really did hit the orange button, make sure to take a quick look at the order window to confirm that you are truly in simulation mode.

While getting carried away by thinkOnDemand, try to remember that it’s not real. And no, you can’t go back in time to place real trades. The Flux Capacitor is still in development.

When you’re ready to come back to real trading, simply click on the orange On Demand button again and your platform will revert to normal trading.

thinkorswim Learning Center

Thanks to the thinkorswim Learning Center you are just one click away from an illimitable amount of knowledge. The Learning Center has an extensive archive of tutorials, how-to guides, and more that will help you take advantage of thinkorswim's many features.

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