Custom inputs are one of the most powerful features of the autotrading platform. They are a useful tool to add efficiency and flexibility to your flow of operations within an automation.
Your bots may have multiple automations, and each automation may have many decision recipes and actions. It can be a time-consuming process to re-enter different ticker symbols repeatedly. And the whole point of automation is to save you time, right? That’s why we created custom ticker inputs.
The beauty of automation is that you can reuse an automation and simply change out the ticker symbol if you want to apply the strategy to different stocks. This is also great when cloning bot templates.
Ticker symbol inputs are typically referenced multiple times within a single automation for different decision actions. Custom ticker inputs make it incredibly easy to plug in the same security as you build out your automation.
Custom inputs are easy to create, and we suggest you use them throughout all your automations for as many variable fields as you can. Custom inputs are great for any variable field, and if you create an automated strategy, you’ll likely want the ticker symbol to be interchangeable so you can use the same strategy throughout a bot.
You can always keep track of how many times a custom input is used in an automation inside the automation editor. You can name variable fields to make them easily identifiable when they’re reused, and you can swap out the field’s value at any point in the future.
Plus, you can always view what custom ticker input is being used inside the automation in the Automations tab.
With custom ticker inputs, you can run the exact same automation across multiple tickers in an automation, without having to go into each automation and manually change the symbol.
In this video I want to show you how to create custom ticker inputs for any of the automations that you’re running inside your bots at Option Alpha.
Not only are custom inputs very easy to create, as I’ll show you here in this video, but they’re really powerful. In fact, they are so powerful that we encourage people to use them all over the place inside of their automations because it gives you a level of flexibility that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
So inside of this demo automation here which is completely blank, you’ll first notice that on the left-hand side here my list of inputs shows zero. I haven’t created any custom inputs or any opportunities because I’m just building this out from scratch.
The first thing that we’re going to do is that we’re going to add a decision. This is basically a placeholder for any of the decisions that you want the bot to take, but again it’s going to show you how to create this custom ticker input and why it’s so important.
So we’re going to select the first block here to add a Decision Action and then we’re going to pick from the list of available recipes. We’ll first start with this one here. Pretty simple one that we’ve used over and over again which checks to see if a symbol’s price is above or below Some Moving Average.
You’ll notice that whenever we’re confronted with the symbol field, we can select that symbol field and then we can choose an actual symbol. This is what we refer to as hard typing in the symbol or selecting the symbol manually, but whatever we do here, anytime that we make a change, we will have to come back in here and reselect a new symbol.
So this works well if you know exactly what you want to trade all the time in your automations or you’re referencing some sort of index or some sort of value metric that you want to always pull from. Here, we’ve selected SPY, which means that no matter what we do it’s always going to refer to SPY.
We can go back in here and we can make a change to this ticker symbol field and select a different one like GLD. You can go back in here and you can search for something like EEM and pull up that one as well. But again, every time that you make a change, you have to come all the way back in here to this particular Decision Action and this recipe and select a different symbol. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to do something a little bit different. Now we’re going to create what’s called a custom input.
A custom input is nothing other than a variable field. It’s a field that you will set later that can be reused over and over again inside of the automation. It allows you the flexibility to set the symbol field once and let that symbol field flow through to other areas inside the automation. We’ll build this out here now, so you can see it as we’re starting to add more decision steps to this demo automation.
To add a custom input, we simply go over here to the icon to the right, and select that, and then choose the button for "Add Input." Notice that we don’t have any custom inputs because we haven’t created any. We can label it anything we want, like Ticker Symbol, so we know exactly what it is.
We can set a default value, so this is the fail-safe that it always falls back to and in our case we will use SPY. Once we’re done, we simply hit save. Now notice that custom input field is now being used in reference here. And when we go over to the next box, notice that the text changes to represent the custom input field that we just set.
Now we know that this is not a ticker symbol that we’ve set yet, we can set the ticker symbol later. This gives us a variable field that we can swap out as we continue forward with our automation. Now we’ll set the rest of the fields.
Let’s just say that we want to have the ticker symbol's price be above the 200-day moving average. So, we select all of our fields and then we hit save. Now we’ve got our first Decision Action added to the Automation Editor. As soon as this automation runs, it’s going to check and see if the ticker symbols price is above 200-day moving average. Notice also that once we’ve saved this, now we have a list of our inputs showing down on the left-hand side.
First one that we have here is called Ticker Symbol and it’s only being used once. If we ever wanted to edit the name or default of these ticker symbols, we simply click on the gear icon, go over to the custom input that we want to change, and we make a change here. We can call it “Ticker Symbol B” or “Ticker Symbol A." Whatever we want here, we make that change, and we can change the default. Once we’re good we simply hit save. That changes all the defaults for that custom input being used.
Now this is all great, but it expands the functionality when we start getting to the next set up steps. So let’s add some more decision here and again you can use whatever decision you want. We’re just going to add some examples here to kind of prove our point with custom inputs.
We’re going to add another decisions to check and see if IV Rank for this particular symbol is above 60. Now the first thing that we did here was check and see if the ticker symbol is trading above its 200-day moving average. This next decision could use a very specific symbol. We could type in SPY here, but again just like what we saw before, that doesn’t really make it that flexible.
Any time that we want to change the ticker symbol, we have to come all the way back in here and make a change. So instead, we’re going to use a custom input. Lucky for us, we’ve already created a custom input called “Ticker Symbol."
Now in this field here we don’t have to add a new custom input, we can reuse one of the inputs that we’ve already used. This means that the same ticker symbol field will now flow through to the rest of the decisions in the automation. We can select that here and then we can go over and make any changes that we want to our decision recipe. Once we’re done, we simply hit save.
Now you will notice on the left-hand side that under custom inputs we have the “Ticker Symbol” that is our custom input with two usages. That means that when we enter the Ticker Symbol one time it’s being reused twice inside the automation.
Let’s keep going here. So now we go to another Decision. Now we want to check and see if the price has increased a certain amount since yesterday. So we could type in the actual symbol but again that’s not very flexible, so we’re going to reuse once again the Ticker Symbol input that we’ve just created. We’ll go over here and we’ll say that the price increased 2% since yesterday. Again, these are just dummy placeholder decision, you do whatever you want inside of your automations.
As we continue building out our automation editor, you will notice that the ticker input field here continues to get updated with the different usages that we’re using.
When we finally get to the point of opening a position, and we go to open a position, maybe a long equity position, we again can use the same symbol field. That’s because we’ve already created this input and we can reference it anytime that we want where the symbol field is being used inside of the automation.
We can now use that ticker symbol field and then again reference it for the open position action. Notice that one custom input now has been used and reused over and over again throughout the automation.
Now this is really cool because it again gives you the flexibility to reuse the symbols over and over again. But where it’s really powerful is when you start reusing this automation with other symbols. Let’s assume that this automations now done and built out exactly the way that we want. We simply exit out of here and we can go over to our list of Scanners. We can double check the symbol that we’re using here and in this case we can swap it out for a different symbol. Maybe we want to trade something like SPY which is now the default. So, we simply hit Save.
Now this is being traded on SPY. We didn’t have to go back into the actual automation and make changes to every single decision step. If we want to make a change again and now we want to change this back to something else, we want to change it to FXI for example, we simply change the custom input there and hit save. And now that ticker symbol is FXI.
The one input we have is being reused across the entire automation. Notice if we go back in to the automation editor, we did not have to come in here and reuse that symbol and make edits over and over again. We’re just using one automation with some custom input fields to make a really flexible scanner for our bot.
And now that we have that demo automation already in here we can actually add multiple scanners to our bot of the same type of automation because we’re using that custom input field. Now, we can reuse that Demo Automation, add another demo automation to this bot, and now use a different symbol, let’s say GLD.
Notice that again we’re reusing the exact same automation that we had built, and because we’re using custom inputs, we can reuse all of the decision recipes and just tell the bot to swap out the ticker symbol when it goes through its decisions, and use GLD in this case. Once we’re good to go, we simply hit save and now that’s added to our list of Scanners.
Now we have one scanner that’s looking at FXI, one scanner that’s looking at GLD, but it’s all reusing the same decision steps that we built out. Again, ultimate flexibility and scale using this custom ticker inputs.
Let’s do it one more time. Let’s add another demo automation here and now let’s swap the Ticker Symbol field for something else like TLT and simply hit save.
Now we have three automations running. One in FXI, one in GLD, and one in TLT. All reusing the exact same automation. This means that if we go into the automation and we make a change to one of the fields in the automation, like the ticker symbol's moving average, and change that from a 200-day to a 50-day moving average, that change flows over to all of the automations that are using this, because we’re not changing the actual custom input, we’re just changing the actual decision recipe right here.
This means that all of your changes save across all the automations that you’re using so you don’t have to go back through and track through all the different changes and all the different notes that you have in your system. Once we’re using the same automation and it’s just swapping out that one custom input field that we set in here for the ticker symbol.
So again this is how you build out custom ticker inputs for your automations right inside your platform at Option Alpha.