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Troubleshooting procedure when backtest shows no trades

When we run backtest and get no results at all – there may be several reasons of such behaviour. The main potential causes are the following:

  1. our system does not generate any entry signals within the tested range
  2. our settings do not allow the backtester to take any trades

To verify if we are getting any signals – the first thing to do is to run a Scan. This allows us to check if we are getting any Buy or Short signals at all. If there are none, then we need to check the formula and make sure that data interval we are working on are correct (in Periodicity in Analysis->Settings->General).

If Scan works fine and returns trading signals, but backtester still does not produce any output, it usually means that the settings are wrong, i.e. the constraints set in the settings prevent trades from being opened mainly because requested position size is too big or too small.

To check what is going on, it is best to switch Report mode to Detailed log and re-run backtest.

Report - Detailed log

Once you run backtest in Detailed Log mode you will be able to find out exact reasons why trades can not be opened for each and every bar:

Detailed log output

Using the following settings may be helpful to minimize chances of not entering trades because of various constraints:

In Analysis->Settings, General tab:

  1. check if Initial Equity is high enough
  2. set Periodicity to the appropriate interval
  3. Allow position size shrinking – turn it On
  4. Round Lot Size – set it to 0
  5. in Min. Shares box enter 0.01
  6. in Min. pos. value enter 0
  7. Account Margin – set it to 100

Settings - General

in Portfolio tab, enter 0 in Limit trade size as % of entry bar volume box.

Settings - Portfolio

Too small / unreadable Profit Table in the backtest report

Some of users may observe that their Profit table is too small, so the numbers get truncated or the text is too small.

First let me tell you that profit table in the backtest report is not really a table, but a bitmap image with fixed dimensions. Profit table, like any other user-definable report chart, is created by running an AFL formula present in the “Report charts” subfolder. The chart is rendered into bitmap image that gets later embedded in the backtest report.

The size of backtest report images depends on Analysis window settings. In order to increase the size of generated images, it is necessary to go to Analysis -> Settings, Report tab and increase the picture dimensions:

reportchartdim

Once you change it, newly generated reports will use enlarged image dimensions. Adjusted settings will affect new backtests only, but not the old reports that have already been generated.

Tip: You can create your own report charts by placing your own AFL formula in the “Report charts” subfolder.

Low-level gfx example: Yearly/monthly profit chart

The code below is an little bit more complex example of Low Level Graphics functions (see http://www.amibroker.com/guide/a_lowlevelgfx.html)

It allows to display three kinds of charts:

  1. yearly/monthly profit table
  2. yearly profit bar chart
  3. average monthly profit bar chart

The type of chart is switchable from Parameters dialog.

It should be applied to ~~~EQUITY – portfolio equity symbol (so it only produces output if you run backtest before using it).



SetBarsRequired(1000000,1000000);
eq Foreign("~~~EQUITY""C" );

yr Year();
mo Month();

YearChange yr != Refyr, -);
MonChange mo != Refmo, -);

FirstYr 0;
LastYr 0;

startbar 0;

////////////////////////////
// SKIP non-trading bars
////////////////////////////
for( 0BarCounti++ )
{
  if( 
eq] )
  {
    
startbar i;
    break;
  } 
}

////////////////////////////
// collect yearly / monthly changes in equity
// into dynamic variables
////////////////////////////

LastYrValue eqstartbar  ];
LastMoValue eqstartbar  ];

MaxYrProfit MinYrProfit 0;
MaxMoProfit MinMoProfit 0;

for( 
startbar 1BarCounti++ )
{
  if( 
YearChange] || == BarCount )
  {
    
Chg 100 * ( -eq] / LastYrValue );
    
VarSet("ChgYear"yr], Chg );

    
MaxYrProfit MaxMaxYrProfitChg );
    
MinYrProfit MinMinYrProfitChg );

    if( 
FirstYr == FirstYr yr];
    
LastYr yr];

    
LastYrValue eq];
  }

  if( 
MonChange ] || == BarCount )
  {
    
mon mo];

    
Chg 100 * ( -eq] / LastMoValue );

    
VarSet("ChgMon" yr] + "-" monChg );
    
VarSet("SumChgMon"monChg NzVarGet("SumChgMon"mon ) ) );
    
VarSet("SumMon" monNzVarGet("SumMon"mon ) ) );
 
    
MaxMoProfit MaxMaxMoProfitChg );
    
MinMoProfit MinMinMoProfitChg );

    
LastMoValue eq];
  }
}

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
// Drawing code & helper functions
////////////////////////////////////////////////

GfxSetOverlayMode);

CellHeight = (Status("pxheight")-1)/(LastYr FirstYr ); 
CellWidth = (Status("pxwidth")-1)/14
GfxSelectFont"Tahoma"8.5 ); 

GfxSetBkMode);

function 
PrintInCellstringrowCol 
{
 
Color =  ColorRGBIIfrow == || col == || col == 13220255 ), 255IIfrow 2255220 ) );
 
GfxSelectSolidBrushColor   );
 
GfxRectangleCol CellWidth
                    
row CellHeight, (Col ) * CellWidth 1
                    (
row ) * CellHeight  1); 
 
GfxDrawTextstringCol CellWidth 1
                    
row CellHeight 1
                    (
Col ) * CellWidth, (row ) * CellHeight32+); 



YOffset 25;
XOffset 15;

function 
DrawBartextbarnumbarsyMinyMaxy )
{
 
BarWidth = (Status("pxwidth") - XOffset )/( numbars ); 
 
BarHeight Status("pxheight") - YOffset;
 
relpos = ( Miny ) / (Maxy Miny );

 
xp XOffset + ( bar 0.5 ) * BarWidth;
 
yp YOffset BarHeight * ( relpos );
 
xe XOffset + ( bar ) * BarWidth;
 
ye YOffset BarHeight * ( - ( -miny )/( maxy miny ) );
  
 if( 
)
 {
 
GfxGradientRectxpyp
                  
xe ye,
                  
ColorHSB70255 relpos255 ), ColorHSB7020255 ) ); 
 }
 else
 {
 
GfxGradientRectxpye
                  
xe yp,
                  
ColorHSB020255 ), ColorHSB0255 * ( relpos ), 255 ) ); 
 }
 
GfxTextOuttextxpye );
 
GfxTextOutStrFormat("%.2f"), xpyp );
}    

function 
DrawLevelsMinyMaxy )
{
  
range Maxy Miny;

  
grid 100;
  if( 
range 10 grid 1;
  else 
  if( 
range 20 grid 2;
  else 
  if( 
range 50 grid 5;
  else 
  if( 
range 100 grid 10;
  else 
  if( 
range 200 grid 20;
  else 
  if( 
range 500 grid 50;

  
_TRACE("grid = "+grid +" range "+range );
  
  
width Status("pxwidth") - XOffset;
  
height Status("pxheight") - YOffset;

  
GfxSelectPencolorBlack1);
  for( 
grid ceilMiny grid ); <= grid floorMaxy grid ); += grid )
  {
    
yp =  YOffset Height * ( -  ( Miny ) / (Maxy Miny ) );

    
GfxMoveToXOffsetyp );
    
GfxLineToXOffset width yp );
    
GfxTextOut""yXOffset widthyp );
  }

  
GfxSelectPencolorBlack1);
  
GfxMoveToXOffsetYOffset );
  
GfxLineToXOffset widthYOffset );
  
GfxLineToXOffset widthYOffset Height );
  
GfxLineToXOffset YOffset Height );
  
GfxLineToXOffset YOffset );
}

MonthNames "Jan,Feb,Mar,Apr,May,Jun,Jul,Aug,Sep,Oct,Nov,Dec";

function 
DisplayProfitTable( )
{
 
Header "Year,"+MonthNames+",Yr Profit%";
 for( 
Col 0; (Colname StrExtractHeaderCol ) ) != ""Col++ )
 {
  
PrintInCellColName0Col );
 }

 
Row 1;
 for( 
FirstYr<= LastYry++ )
 {
  
PrintInCellStrFormat("%g"), Row); 
  
PrintInCellStrFormat("%.1f%%"VarGet("ChgYear" ) ), Row13 ); 
  for( 
1<= 12m++ )
  { 
   
Chg VarGet("ChgMon" "-" m);
   if( 
Chg 
     
PrintInCellStrFormat("%.1f%%"Chg ), Row);
   else
     
PrintInCell"N/A"Row);
  }
  
Row++;
 } 

 
PrintInCell("Mon. Avg"Row);
 for( 
1<= 12m++ )
 { 
   
PrintInCellStrFormat("%.1f%%",  NzVarGet("SumChgMon" m)/VarGet("SumMon" ) ) ), Row);
 }

}

function 
DisplayYearlyProfits()
{
 
Bar 0;
 for( 
FirstYr<= LastYry++ )
 {
   
Chg VarGet("ChgYear" );
   
DrawBar""+yBar++, ( LastYr FirstYr ), ChgMinYrProfitMaxYrProfit );
 }
 
GfxTextOut("Yearly % Profit chart"1010 );

 
DrawLevelsMinYrProfitMaxYrProfit ); 
}

function 
DisplayMonthlyProfits()
{
 
Bar 0;
 
 
MinAvgProf MaxAvgProf 0;
 for( 
1<= 12y++ )
 {
   
Chg VarGet("SumChgMon" ) / VarGet("SumMon" );
   
MinAvgProf MinMinAvgProfChg );
   
MaxAvgProf MaxMaxAvgProfChg );
 }

 for( 
1<= 12y++ )
 {
   
Chg VarGet("SumChgMon" ) / VarGet("SumMon" );
   
DrawBarStrExtract(MonthNamesy-), Bar++, 13ChgMinAvgProf MaxAvgProf );
 }
 
GfxTextOut("Avg. Monthly % Profit chart"1010 );

 
DrawLevelsMinAvgProf MaxAvgProf ); 
}

///////////////////////////
// This function checks if currently selected symbol
// is portfolio equity
//////////////////////////
function CheckSymbol()
{
 if( 
Name() != "~~~EQUITY" )
 {
  
GfxSelectFont"Tahoma"20 ); 
  
GfxSetBkMode);
  
GfxTextOut("For accurate results switch to ~~~EQUITY symbol"1010 );
 }
}

////////////////////////////
// Main program - chart type switch
////////////////////////////
type ParamList("Chart Type""Profit Table|Yearly Profits|Avg. Monthly Profits");

switch( 
type )
{
 case 
"Profit Table"
         
DisplayProfitTable();  
         break;
 case 
"Yearly Profits"
         
DisplayYearlyProfits();
         break;
 case 
"Avg. Monthly Profits"
         
DisplayMonthlyProfits();
         break;
}

CheckSymbol();


Figure 1. Profit chart in table mode

Profit chart example 2

Figure 2. Profit chart in yearly mode

Profit chart example 3

Figure 3. Profit chart in monthly mode

Profit chart example 4