Active Trader Ladder

The Active Trader Ladder is a real-time data table that displays bid, ask, and volume data for the current symbol based on a price breakdown. By default, the following columns are available in this table:

  • Volume column displays volume at every price level for the current trading day.
  • Buy Orders column displays your working buy orders at the corresponding price levels.
  • Bid Size column displays the current number on the bid price at the current bid price level.
  • Price displays the price breakdown; prices in this column are sorted in descending order and have the same increment equal, by default, to the tick size. You can change this increment by clicking   (Zoom In/ Zoom Out) buttons in the control bar to the right of the table. Current market price is highlighted in gray. To center the Active Trader Ladder so the market price is exactly in the middle, click  (Center View) in the control bar to the right.
  • Ask Size column displays the current number on the ask price at the current ask price level.
  • Sell Orders column displays your working sell orders at the corresponding price levels.

Customizing Active Trader Ladder

Columns in the Active Trader Ladder are customizable: click on the  (small gear) button in the top right corner of the table and choose Customize; the Customize Active Trader dialog will appear. Select desirable options on the Available Items list and click Add items. Additional items, which may be added, include:

  • Fills will display the number of orders that have filled during the day, at their corresponding price levels;
  • Orders will display bubbles of working buy and sell orders in a single column at their corresponding price levels;
  • P/L Open will display profit/loss values since the position was opened, calculated at every price level;
  • Trade Cnt will display the number of trades at every price level for the current trading day. You can also remove unnecessary columns by selecting them on the Current Set list and then clicking Remove Items. Click OK to update the Active Trader Ladder columns.

Viewing study values in the Active Trader Ladder

You can include values of technical indicators to the Active Trader ladder view:

  1. Add some studies to the Active Trader Chart.
  2. Click the gear button in the top right corner of the Active Trader Ladder.
  3. Select Show Chart Studies.
  4. Look for your study values in the Price column: those will be marked by circles, triangles, squares, or diamonds at corresponding price values. Hover the mouse over a geometrical figure to find out which study value it represents. If some study value does not fit into your current view (i.e., it is too high or too low), you will see an arrow pointing in the direction to scroll the ladder to find this value.
  5. You can add orders based on study values, too. Right-click on the geometrical figure of the desirable study value and choose Buy or Sell. Proceed with the order confirmation.

Position Summary

Above the table, you can see the Position Summary, a customizable panel that displays important details of your current position. By default, the following metrics are displayed: buys and sells you’ve had during the trading day, total current position in the account, average price of the position currently in the account, the profit/loss value since the position was opened, and current day’s profit/loss.

1. To customize the Position Summary, click Show actions menu and choose Customize... The Customize position summary panel dialog will appear. Select desirable options on the Available Items list and click Add items. The only additional item that is not displayed by default is Day only position, which will display today’s total position.

2. You can also remove unnecessary metrics by selecting them on the Current Set list and then clicking Remove Items. Click OK to update the Active Trader Ladder columns.

Crosshairs synchronization

You can synchronize your charts crosshairs with the Active Trader Ladder in the menu accessible from the small gear icon. When synchronized, moving your mouse across the ladder will automatically move the chart crosshairs across the corresponding price levels if they are contained in the current price range. 

Entering a Market Order

Market orders are intended to buy or sell a specified quantity of contracts or shares at the next available market price. To place a Market Order in Active Trader, make sure you’ve chosen the correct quantity in the second line of the Big Buttons panel and click Buy MKT or Sell MKT. Proceed with order confirmation.

Entering Stop/Limit Orders

  1. Adjust the quantity in the second line of the Big Buttons panel.
  2. Hover the mouse over Bid Size or Ask Size column in the Active Trader ladder. You will see a bubble in the Buy Orders or Sell Orders column, e.g., BUY +1 STOP. This bubble indicates trade direction, quantity and order type while its location determines the price level at which the order will be entered.
  3. Click at the desired price level:
    • In the Bid Size column, clicking above the current market price will add a buy stop order; clicking below or at the market price, a buy limit order.
    • In the Ask Size column, clicking below the current market price will add a sell stop order; clicking above or at the market price, a sell limit order.
  4. Proceed with order confirmation

A stop order will not guarantee an execution at or near the activation price. Once activated, they compete with other incoming market orders.
With a stop limit order, you risk missing the market altogether. In a fast-moving market, it might be impossible to execute an order at the stop-limit price or better, so you might not have the protection you sought.

 

Entering a First Triggers Order

  1. A 1st Triggers (First Triggers) order is a compound operation where an order, once filled, triggers execution of another order (or other orders). To add a 1st Triggers order in Active Trader, do the following:
  2. In the second line of the Big Buttons panel, choose TRG w/bracket. This will display a new section which represents two additional orders: Limit and Stop.
  3. Decide which order (Limit or Stop) you would like to trigger when the first order fills. Disable the other.
  4. Adjust the quantity and time in force.
  5. Specify the offset. Offset is the difference between the prices of the orders. It can be specified as a dollar amount, ticks, or percentage.
  6. Hover the mouse over the Bid Size or Ask Size column, depending on the type of the first order you would like to enter. Note how Active Trader adds an additional bubble in the other column, e.g., TRG+1.00 STP.
  7. Click at the desired price level:
    • In the Bid Size column, clicking above the current market price will add a buy stop order; clicking below or at the market price, a buy limit order.
    • In the Ask Size column, clicking below the current market price will add a sell stop order; clicking above or at the market price, a sell limit order.
  8. Proceed with order confirmation.
  9. Once you send the order and it starts working, you will see two bubbles appear in both Bid Size and Ask Size columns. While the first order is still working, you can drag its bubble along the price ladder so its price will change: after confirmation, the second bubble will also change its position to maintain the offset you specified at Step 4. To cancel the entire 1st Triggers order, just click ‘x’ in its bubble in the ladder.

Entering a First Triggers OCO Order

An OCO (One Cancels Other) order is a compound operation where an order, once filled, cancels execution of another order. It may be used as the triggered order in a First Triggers so that when the first order fills, both OCO orders become working; when either of the latter is filled, the other is canceled.

To add a 1st Triggers OCO order in Active Trader, repeat all steps from Entering a First Triggers (above), but keep both orders from Step 2 enabled.

Using Order Bubbles in Active Trader Ladder

When you add an order in Active Trader and it starts working, it is displayed as a bubble in the ladder. Bubbles indicate order price, trade direction, and quantity - and they can also be used for order editing or cancelation. Dragging a bubble along the ladder will change the price, so when you drag-and-drop, you will see another order confirmation dialog (unless Auto send option is enabled, which we recommend to avoid). Once you confirm and send, the bubble will take its new place and the order will start working with this new price. To cancel an order, you can just click ‘x’ in its bubble.

All of the above may be especially useful for 1st triggers and 1st triggers OCO orders. Dragging the first working order along the ladder will also re-position the orders to be triggered so that they maintain their offset. Clicking ‘x’ in the working order’s bubble will cancel both the working order and those to be triggered by it. Note that dragging the bubble of an order waiting for trigger will not re-position the bubble of the working order: this will only change the offset between them. Canceling an order waiting for trigger will not cancel the working order.

The Active Trader tab is a thinkorswim interface designed especially for futures traders who can benefit from its handy bid/ask price ladder, one-click order entering, and high level of customization. This interface can be accessed by clicking Active Trader on the Trade tab.

Layout

When opened, the interface will display, by default, two identical sets of gadgets: Chart + Active Trader. The Active Trader consists of Big Buttons and AT Ladder. To the right of each set, there is a gadget control bar, which will help you add or remove gadgets to/from each set by clicking on the corresponding buttons: Trade, Times and Sales, Active Trader, Chart1, Chart2, Chart3, Dashboard, Level II, and Live News. Note that you can also use one of our predefined layouts by clicking  (Grid presets)  in the header. To customize the entire Active Trader grid (i.e., change the number of gadget sets), click  (Grid) in the top right corner.

Chart

This gadget is a miniature version of the thinkorswim Charts interface. It has the same functionality as the interface does, however, its display is optimized to fit a smaller screen area. Use the Chart’s symbol picker to specify the instrument to be used in the Active Trader.

Big Buttons

The Big Buttons panel consists of two customizable lines of trade command buttons; however, by default, it is shown collapsed so you can only see the upper line. To make the second line visible, click Show Buttons Area in the first line. By default, the first line contains the following buttons:

  • Buy Market adds a buying order for the current symbol at the market price. By default, the order confirmation dialog will be shown.
  • Sell Market adds a selling order for the current symbol at the market price. By default, an order confirmation dialog will be shown.
  • Clicking Cancel will provide you with the following options: Cancel All, Cancel All Buy, and Cancel All Sell. These will correspondingly cancel all working orders, all buy orders, and all sell orders in the Active Trader gadget.
  • Reverse will reverse your current position on the symbol chosen in the Active Trader. Example: if you have a +1 contract long for the current symbol, clicking Reverse will have the gadget sell 2 contracts. By default, an order confirmation dialog will be shown.
  • Flatten will close any open position for the current symbol and cancel all working orders.

The second line of the Big Buttons panel provides you with the following options:

  • Quantity is the number of contracts or shares that will be in your Active Trader orders.
  • Template defines the type of order to be sent: Single, OCO (One Cancels Other), and Trigger with one, two, or three brackets. OCO and Trigger orders in Active Trader are discussed here.
  • Auto send. Checking this box will allow you to skip order confirmation and send your order directly to the market. Note: we strongly recommend that you review your orders in the order confirmation dialog before sending; avoid using auto send unless you are absolutely sure it is safe.

Both lines of the panel are customizable: click the  (gear) icon to open the Customize dialog. Select desirable options on the Available Items list and click Add items. You can also remove unnecessary buttons by selecting them on the Current Set list and then clicking Remove Items. Click OK to update the Big Buttons panel.

  • Items Buy Bid and Sell Ask will be displayed in the panel as Join the Bid and Join the Ask, correspondingly. Clicking these buttons will have Active Trader issue a limit order to buy/sell at the current bid/ask price.
  • TIF stands for Time In Force. Adding this item to the current set will provide you with a drop-down list, where you can select the time in force for your orders: day or GTC (Good Till Canceled). Note that market orders must be sent as day orders, otherwise they will be rejected.