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Creating a Bot

Let's create a bot! Creating a bot is simple and powerful. Learn how to build and customize a new bot in Option Alpha.

To create a new bot, select “Create Bot" in the bot dashboard.

Customize the bot with a name and icon, select a brokerage or paper trading account, give the bot an allocation, and input position limits in the bot's global settings.

Global settings can be edited anytime but must be entered when a bot is created.

Name

Give your bot a name. Naming the bot makes it easy to remember the bot’s purpose, inputs, and strategy. As you add more bots to your portfolio, it is important for the name to be easily identifiable to help keep you organized.

Icon

You can customize your bot with a colored icon to help identify your strategies and organize your portfolio.

Account

Link the bot to a connected brokerage account or paper trading account. You cannot change the bot's account after you create the bot (you'll need to clone the bot to change accounts).

You do not need to have a connected brokerage account to use the Option Alpha paper trading account.

Allocation

Allocation is the total capital available for the bot to open positions. The bot will not enter new positions if it exceeds the allocation limit. Bot allocation limits are calculated at position entry.

Allocation is different than risk or position limits. Allocation is the total purchasing power the bot has to open new positions. Risk defines the maximum amount that can be lost on a single position and can be set as a dollar or percentage amount in the automation editor.

Market conditions at position closing may cause increased capital allocations beyond the calculated maximum risk at position entry. If the market is illiquid or bid-ask spreads are wide, bots have the potential to risk more capital when the position is closed than was allocated at entry.

For example, if there is a wide bid-ask spread for a credit spread position, the ask price to close the spread may exceed the spread’s width. As always, you have the ability to override positions, or SmartPricing settings, exit criteria, and orders at any time.

If you manually override a position, the Option Alpha platform no longer communicates with the position The position will not count against position limits or capital allocation limits. You may need to re-consider your bot’s capital allocation limit if you manually override positions.

Position Limits - Daily

You must also set daily and total position limits when creating a bot. Bot scanners and other entry automations automatically turn off when a position limit is reached. 

The daily limit is the maximum number of positions the bot can open in one day.

For example, a bot with a daily limit of three positions will stop scanning for new positions if three positions have been opened in one trading day.

Position limits are for opening positions only; you can close as many positions as you want.

Position Limits - Total

The total limit is the maximum number of open positions available for a bot. The bot will not open new positions if the total position limit is reached.

For example, a bot with a total limit of six positions will stop scanning for new positions if there are six positions open inside the bot.

Create Bot

Select “Create Bot” after you enter the global settings. You may edit the bot settings later if you want to make changes.

Your new bot is added to your portfolio. The Positions tab, Automations tab, and Bot Log are blank and ready for you to add automations. New bots are automatically "Off" by default when created. To turn on the bot, simply toggle the switch to "On" in the top right corner of the dashboard.

Deleting a bot

To delete a bot, click on the three dots on the top right of the bot's dashboard and select 'Delete.' Deleting a bot will remove it from your account and all position stats  will no longer be accessible. You can always save your bot as a template. There is no limit to the number of templates you can have.

FAQs

What is a bot?

Bots automate trading strategies. Bots contain automations that run your trade logic. A bot is a container to house your automations and provide a framework to control them. Things like allocation and position limits, which are part of the bot settings, will oversee your automations.

Why do I need a bot?

All positions must be assigned to a bot. To open a new position, manually or automated, you must have a bot. Bots can be paper traded or connected to a live account.

How do I decide what to put in my bot?

You are in complete control of what goes into your bots and automations. Bots automate trading strategies, so you should take the time to conceptually and logically think through your strategy from beginning to end and all contingencies for different scenarios.

Before trading a bot live, it is recommended you paper-trade to ensure you are familiar and comfortable with how the bot will perform.

What tickers are available to trade using bots?

A list of tickers currently available to trade can be found in the "Technical Documents" section of the Help Center.

After I create my bot, how do I turn it on?

Once your bot is ready for live trading you can toggle the “On/Off” button in the top right corner of the bot’s dashboard. The automations will run at the next scheduled interval.

Do new bots automatically turn on once they are created?

No. Bots are turned off by default. You must turn it on when you are ready.

How can I test the trading concepts I plan to put in my bot?

There are two ways to test your trading strategies before implementing them with a bot. The first is to use the Option Alpha Backtester. The Backtester allows you to test a strategy's performance relative to historical data.

You can also test your strategies by paper trading the bot. You can set any bot to paper trade in the global settings.

Are my bot changes saved automatically as I'm building them?

No. When you build an automation, modify an input, or create an event you must select the “Save” button to save the changes.

How can I see what bot ideas and concepts are working for others?

Shared templates are available in the "Community." You can view, clone, and copy shared templates. The Backtester also displays the top backtested strategies run inside the Community.

Can I trade commodities or futures or options on futures with bots?

At this time only stocks and options are available for trading.

Can I use the same bot for multiple tickers?

Yes, you can use the same bot for multiple tickers, but there is a limit of ten tickers per bot.

Can I use icons and coloring for my bots to personalize them?

Yes, you can customize your bots with icons and colors. Icons help you keep your bots organized.

Can I trade major index tickers with a bot?

None of the major index symbols are currently available. We hope to add them in the future.

Can I adjust my bot's settings after I create it?

Yes, all settings and criteria within your bot can always be modified at any time.

Can I assign different dollar allocations to different automations within a bot?

Yes, your bot is fully customizable so that you can modify the number of shares or contracts, dollar amount, or the account’s percent allocation to any position.

How should I name my bot?

You can name your bot and automations anything you like, and we suggest naming the bot in a way that helps you easily identify its strategy.

Can I assign a specific dollar amount for the bot to manage?

Yes, you can specify a specific dollar amount to a bot, a specific number of shares or contracts, or a specific percent of a total account allocation.

Is allocation based on margin?

Allocation is not based on margin; it is based on the full cost of the position. Margin varies by broker and position type.

Does a bot have to connect directly to a trading account or can I use it for signals only?

A bot can be connected to one or more trading accounts and even connected to accounts at different brokerages. All brokerage accounts must be accessed through a single log-in at that firm.

A bot does not need to be connected to a trading account. Bots can stay in paper mode and still provide notifications and signals when certain conditions are met.

Is a bot an "algorithmic trading strategy?"

Bots are not an algorithmic trading strategy. You must manually input (or clone) a specific set of instructions that the bot will follow and subsequently send an order to your broker for execution.

Bots do not use any form of machine learning or artificial intelligence.

Can a bot have multiple strategies running at the same time?

Yes. A bot can have different trading strategies and position types within the same bot. Different automations can be used to execute different strategies and use different ticker symbols.

Can bots execute trades in my IRA or Margin Account?

Yes. All bots will initially be risk-defined trades and can therefore be traded in an IRA account.

Is there a list of bot templates to help me get started?

Yes, there are a number of templates available to view on the Option Alpha website. You can also access shared templates in the Community. Templates can be cloned and saved to your personal library.

How complex can or should I make my bot?

The best thing about Option Alpha’s autotrading bots is that you can make them as simple or complex as you like. Your bot’s complexity is up to you, but we recommend starting simple and paper trading. As the bot's designer, you have a significant amount of flexibility when creating automations. 

When should I use a bot and when should I trade manually?

A bot is designed to perform repetitive tasks, so if you have a routine strategy that follows predefined rules, bots are an efficient way to offload scanning and management responsibilities.

You should trade manually when the functionality of the Bot Platform is not sufficient for properly executing or monitoring your strategy.

You can always manually override a position opened inside a bot to regain management in your brokerage account.

Can bots run paper trading and live trading at the same time?

Yes. You can connect different bots to different trading accounts, or leave them in paper mode at your discretion. Each bot gives you the option of choosing your desired account.

How do I delete a bot?

To delete a bot, click on the three dots on the top right of the bot's dashboard and select 'Delete.' Deleting a bot will remove it from your account and all performance stats and position history will no longer be accessible. You can always save your bot as a template.

Why haven't I heard of bots before, are they a new thing?

The word "bot" derives from the word "robot", which, traditionally, is a word used to describe a physical machine used to automate repetitive processes in manufacturing. 

A "bot" is a digital version of a robot used for web applications, like stock trading. Automating trading strategies is not new, but has historically been limited to programmers with a unique skill set. The Bot Platform brings automation to more people by leveraging an "easy to use" UI so you no longer need to master a unique programming language to automate your trading strategies.

Will my broker allow a bot to have access to my account?

In order for your bots to connect to a given brokerage account, that broker has to offer an API for the Bot Platform. Some brokerages currently have this capability and others do not.

This list of compatible brokerages will be updated as connections are added.

How much control do I have over a bot?

You have complete control over your bot. You input the bot’s settings, create the automations with your desired decision criteria, assign ticker symbols, and tell the bot when to turn on and off.

Do bots follow the instructions and limits I set so it doesn't "over-trade"?

Yes, a bot performs based on your parameters. You input the bot’s allocation and position limits, and can even use decision recipes to monitor your ticker symbols and positions.

Do I need to know any level of programming in order to build and use a bot?

No level of programming skill is required to build a bot. What is required is the ability to logically think through the steps that you would like your bot to follow and to structure those steps in a specific order to achieve your trading objectives.

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Author
Kirk Du Plessis
Founder
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