Visual Chart

The integration with Visual Chart supports both:

  • Live Data feeding

  • Live Trading

Visual Chart is a complete trading solution:

  • Integrated Charting, data feed and brokering in a single platform

    For more information visit:


  • VisualChart 6

  • Windows - the one VisualChart is running on

  • comtypes fork:

    Install it with: pip install

    The Visual Chart API is based on COM.

    The current comtypes main branch doesn’t support unpacking of VT_ARRAYS of VT_RECORD. And this is used by Visual Chart

    Pull Request #104 has been submitted but not yet integrated. As soon as it is integrated, the main branch can be used.

  • pytz (optional but really recommended)

    To make sure each and every data is returned in the market time.

    This is true for most markets but some are really an exception (Global Indices being a good example)

    Time Management inside Visual Chart and its relation with the delivered times over COM is complex and having pytz tends to simplify things.

Sample Code

The sources contain a full sample under:

  • samples/vctest/

The sample cannot cover every possible use case but it tries to provide broad insight and should highlight that there is no real difference when it comes to use the backtesting module or the live data module

One thing could be pin-pointed:

  • The sample waits for a data.LIVE data status notification before any trading activity takes place.

    This would probably is something to consider in any live strategy

VCStore - the store

The store is the keystone of the live data feed/trade support, providing a layer of adaptation between the COM API and the needs of a data feed and a broker proxy.

  • Providesaccess to getting a broker instance with the method:

    • VCStore.getbroker(*args, **kwargs)
  • Provides access to getter data feed instances

    • VCStore.getedata(*args, **kwargs)

    In this case many of the **kwargs are common to data feeds like dataname, fromdate, todate, sessionstart, sessionend, timeframe, compression

    The data may provide other params. Check the reference below.

The VCStore will try to:

  • Automatically locate VisualChart in the system using the Windows Registry

    • If found, the installation directory will be scanned for the COM DLLs to create the COM typelibs and be able to instantiate the appropriate objects

    • If not found, then an attempt will be made with known and hardcoded CLSIDs to do the same.


Even if the DLLs can be found by scanning the filesystem, Visual Chart itself has to be running. backtrader won’t start Visual Chart

Other responsibilities of the VCStore:

  • Keeping general track of the connectivity status of Visual Chart to the server

VCData feeds


The data feed offered by Visual Chart has some interesting properties:

  • Resampling is done by the platform

    Not in all cases: Seconds is not supported and has still to be done by backtrader

    As such and only when doing something with seconds would the end user need to do:

    vcstore = bt.stores.VCStore()
    vcstore.getdata(dataname='015ES', timeframe=bt.TimeFrame.Ticks)
    cerebro.resampledata(data, timeframe=bt.TimeFrame.Seconds, compression=5)

    In all other cases it is enough with:

    vcstore = bt.stores.VCStore()
    data = vcstore.getdata(dataname='015ES', timeframe=bt.TimeFrame.Minutes, compression=2)

The data will calculate a timeoffset internally by comparing the internal equipment clock and the ticks delivered by the platform in order to deliver the automatically resampled bars as early as possible if no new ticks are coming in.

Instantiating the data:

  • Pass the symbol seen on the top-left side of VisualChart without spaces. For example:

    • ES-Mini is displayed as 001 ES. Instantiate it as:
    data = vcstore.getdata(dataname='001ES', ...)
    • EuroStoxx 50 is displayed as 015 ES. Instantiate it as:
    data = vcstore.getdata(dataname='015ES', ...)


backtrader will make an effort and clear out a whitespace located at the fourth position if the name is directly pasted from Visual Chart

Time management

The time management follow the general rules of backtrader

  • Give the time in Market time, to make sure the code is not dependent on DST transitions happening at different times and making local time not reliable for time comparisons.

This works for most markets in Visual Chart but some specific management is done for some markets:

  • Datas in the exchange 096 which is named International Indices.

    These are theoretically reported to be in the timezone Europe/London but tests have revealed this seems to be partially true and some internal management is in place to cover for it.

The use of real timezones for time management can be enabled by passing the parameter usetimezones=True. This tries to use pytz if available. It is not needed, as for most markets the internal time offsets provided by Visual Chart allow for the seamless conversion to the market time.

In any case it would seem to be pointless to report the 096.DJI in Europe/London time when it is actually located in US/Eastern. As such backtrader will report it in the later. In that case the use of pytz is more than recommended.


The Dow Jones Industrials index (not the global version) is located at 099I-DJI


All this time management is pending a real test during a DST transition in which local and remote markets happend to be out of sync with regards to DST.

List of International Indices for which the output timezone is defined in VCDATA:

'096.FTSE': 'Europe/London',
'096.FTEU3': 'Europe/London',
'096.MIB30': 'Europe/Berlin',
'096.SSMI': 'Europe/Berlin',
'096.HSI': 'Asia/Hong_Kong',
'096.BVSP': 'America/Sao_Paulo',
'096.MERVAL': 'America/Argentina/Buenos_Aires',
'096.DJI': 'US/Eastern',
'096.IXIC': 'US/Eastern',
'096.NDX': 'US/Eastern',

Small time problem

Passing fromdate or todate with a given time of day rather than the default 00:00:00 seems to create a filter in the COM API and bars for any days will only be delivered after the given time.

As such:

  • Please pass only full dates to VCData as in:

    data = vcstore.getdata(dataname='001ES', fromdate=datetime(2016, 5, 15))

    And not::

    data = vcstore.getdata(dataname=‘001ES’, fromdate=datetime(2016, 5, 15, 8, 30))

Backfilling time lengths

If no fromdate is specified by the end user, the platform will automatically try to backfill and the carry on with live data. The backfilling is timeframe dependent and is:

  • Ticks, MicroSeconds, Seconds: 1 Day

    The same for the 3 timeframes given that Seconds and MicroSeconds are not directly supported by Visual Chart and are done through resampling of Ticks

  • Minutes: 2 Days

  • Days: 1 year

  • Weeks: 2 years

  • Months: 5 years

  • Months: 20 years

The defined backfilling periods are multiplied by the requested compression, that is: if the timeframe is Minutes and the compression is 5 the final backfilling period will be: 2 days * 5 -> 10 days

Trading the data

Visual Chart offers continuous futures. No manual management is needed and the future of your choice can be tracked without interruption. This is an advantage and presents a small challenge:

  • ES-Mini is 001ES, but the actual trading asset (ex: Sep-2016) is ESU16.

To overcome this and allow a strategy to track the continuous future and trade on the real asset the following can be specified during data instantiation:

data = vcstore.getdata(dataname='001ES', tradename='ESU16')

Trades will happen on ESU16, but the data feed will be frm 001ES (the data is the same 3 months long)

Other parameters

  • qcheck (default: 0.5 seconds) controls the frequency to wake up to talk to the internal resampler/replayer to avoid late delivery of bars.

    The following logic will be applied to used this parameter:

    • If internal resampling/replaying is detected, the value will be used as it is.

    • If no internal resampling/replaying is detected, the data feed will not wake up, because there is nothing to report to.

    The data feed will still wake up to check the Visual Chart built-in resampler, but this is automatically controlled.

Data Notifications

The data feed will report the current status via one or more of the following (check the Cerebro and Strategy reference)

  • Cerebro.notify_data (if overriden)n

  • A callback addded with Cerebro.adddatacb

  • Strategy.notify_data (if overriden)

An example inside the strategy:

class VCStrategy(bt.Strategy):

    def notify_data(self, data, status, *args, **kwargs):

        if status == data.LIVE:  # the data has switched to live data
           # do something

The following notifications will be sent following changes in the system:


    Sent on successful initial connection


    In this case retrieving the data is no longer possible and the data will indicate the system nothing can be done. Possible conditions:

    • Wrong contract specified

    • Interruption during historical download

    • Number of reconnection attempts to TWS exceeded


    Connectivity has been lost to either TWS or to the data farms. The data feed will try (via the store) to reconnect and backfill, when needed, and resume operations


    Contract and connection are ok, but the data cannot be retrieved due to lack of permissions.

    The data will indicate to the system that it cannot retrieve the data


    Signaled to indicate that a historical/backfilling operation are in progress and the data being processed by the strategy is not real-time data

  • LIVE

    Signaled to indicate that the data to be processed from this point onwards by the strategy is real-time data

Developers of strategies should consider which actions to undertake in cases like when a disconnection takes place or when receiving delayed data.

VCBroker - Trading Live

Using the broker

To use the VCBroker, the standard broker simulation instance created by cerebro has to be replaced.

Using the Store model (preferred):

import backtrader as bt

cerebro = bt.Cerebro()
vcstore = bt.stores.VCStore() = vcstore.getbroker()  # or cerebro.setbroker(...)

Broker Parameters

Be it directly or over getbroker the VCBroker broker supports no parameters. This is because the broker is just a proxy to the a real Broker. And what the real broker gives, shall not be taken away.



Visual Chart reports open positions. This could be used most of the time to control the actual position, but a final event indicating a Position has been closed is missing.

That makes it compulsory for backtrader to keep full accounting of the Position and separate from any previous existing position in your account


The COM trading interface doesn’t report commissions. There is no chance for backtrader to make and educated guess, unless:

  • The broker is instantiated with a Commission instance indicating which commissions do actually take place.

Trading with it


Visual Chart supports several accounts at the same time in one broker. The chosen account can be controlled with the parameter:

  • account (default: None)

    VisualChart supports several accounts simultaneously on the broker. If the default None is in place the 1st account in the ComTrader Accounts collection will be used.

    If an account name is provided, the Accounts collection will be checked and used if present


There is no change with regards to the standar usage. Just use the methods available in the strategy (see the Strategy reference for a full explanation)

  • buy

  • sell

  • close

  • cancel

Order objects returned

  • Standard backtrader Order objects

Order Execution Types

Visual Chart supports the minimum order execution types needed by backtrader and as such, anyhing which is backtested can go live.

As such the order execution types are limited to the ones available in the broker simulation:

  • Order.Market

  • Order.Close

  • Order.Limit

  • Order.Stop (when the Stop is triggered a Market order follows)

  • Order.StopLimit (when the Stop is triggered a Limit order follows)

Order Validity

The same validity notion available during backtesting (with valid to buy and sell) is available and with the same meaning. As such, the valid parameter is translated as follows for Visual Chart Orders for the following values:

  • None translates to Good Til Cancelled

    Because no validity has been specified it is understood that the order must be valid until cancelled

  • datetime/date translates to Good Til Date


    Beware: Visual Chart does only support “full dates” and the time part is discarded.

  • timedelta(x) translates to Good Til Date (here timedelta(x) != timedelta())


    Beware: Visual Chart does only support full dates and the time part is discarded.

    This is interpreted as a signal to have an order be valid from now + timedelta(x)

  • timedelta() or 0 translates to Session

    A value has been passed (instead of None) but is Null and is interpreted as an order valid for the current day (session)


The standard Order status will be notified to a strategy over the method notify_order (if overridden)

  • Submitted - the order has been sent to TWS

  • Accepted - the order has been placed

  • Rejected - order placement failed or was cancelled by the system during its lifetime

  • Partial - a partial execution has taken place

  • Completed - the order has been fully executed

  • Canceled (or Cancelled)

  • Expired - Not reported as of yet. An heuristic would be needed to distinguish this status from Cancelled



class backtrader.stores.VCStore()

Singleton class wrapping an ibpy ibConnection instance.

The parameters can also be specified in the classes which use this store, like VCData and VCBroker


class backtrader.brokers.VCBroker(**kwargs)

Broker implementation for VisualChart.

This class maps the orders/positions from VisualChart to the internal API of backtrader.


  • account (default: None)

    VisualChart supports several accounts simultaneously on the broker. If the default None is in place the 1st account in the ComTrader Accounts collection will be used.

    If an account name is provided, the Accounts collection will be checked and used if present

  • commission (default: None)

    An object will be autogenerated if no commission-scheme is passed as parameter

    See the notes below for further explanations


  • Position

VisualChart reports “OpenPositions” updates through the ComTrader interface but only when the position has a “size”. An update to indicate a position has moved to ZERO is reported by the absence of such position. This forces to keep accounting of the positions by looking at the execution events, just like the simulation broker does

  • Commission

The ComTrader interface of VisualChart does not report commissions and as such the auto-generated CommissionInfo object cannot use non-existent commissions to properly account for them. In order to support commissions a commission parameter has to be passed with the appropriate commission schemes.

The documentation on Commission Schemes details how to do this

  • Expiration Timing

The ComTrader interface (or is it the comtypes module?) discards time information from datetime objects and expiration dates are always full dates.

  • Expiration Reporting

At the moment no heuristic is in place to determine when a cancelled order has been cancelled due to expiration. And therefore expired orders are reported as cancelled.


class backtrader.feeds.VCData(**kwargs)

VisualChart Data Feed.


  • qcheck (default: 0.5) Default timeout for waking up to let a resampler/replayer that the current bar can be check for due delivery

    The value is only used if a resampling/replaying filter has been inserted in the data

  • historical (default: False) If no todate parameter is supplied (defined in the base class), this will force a historical only download if set to True

    If todate is supplied the same effect is achieved

  • milliseconds (default: True) The bars constructed by Visual Chart have this aspect: HH:MM:59.999000

    If this parameter is True a millisecond will be added to this time to make it look like: HH::MM + 1:00.000000

  • tradename (default: None) Continous futures cannot be traded but are ideal for data tracking. If this parameter is supplied it will be the name of the current future which will be the trading asset. Example:

    • 001ES -> ES-Mini continuous supplied as dataname

    • ESU16 -> ES-Mini 2016-09. If this is supplied in tradename it will be the trading asset.

  • usetimezones (default: True) For most markets the time offset information provided by Visual Chart allows for datetime to be converted to market time (backtrader choice for representation)

    Some markets are special (096) and need special internal coverage and timezone support to display in the user expected market time.

    If this parameter is set to True importing pytz will be attempted to use timezones (default)

    Disabling it will remove timezone usage (may help if the load is excesive)