Tuesday 6 May 2014

The placing of orders to interactive brokers with swigibpy / python

We are nearly at the end of our journey of simplistic examples of how to get the swigibpy package to mediate between the wonderful world of Python and the dark place that is the Interactive brokers C++ API. Having learned how to get 'snapshot' and streaming prices out of the API we are now ready to actually do some trading- submit orders, check they are active, potentially cancel them, receive fills and get historic execution data.

Interactive brokers now have a native python API. An updated version of this post which uses that API is here: http://qoppac.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/placing-orders-in-native-python-ib-api.html

Where do I start?

You need to get the code from the following repo.

The example code to run is in test4_IB.py. If you have a live or simulated Gateway / TWS session running (one associated with a real account number) it should work just fine. Note that you can also run this with the edemo account, but the results will be very ugly. This is because you are seeing the orders placed by everyone who is playing around with this account, so you could get all kinds of randomeness.

WARNING I highly recommend that you do not run this code on a real money trading account until / unless you know exactly what you are doing! In particular real trading code should check market liquidity before trading, particularly for market orders.

The output should be as in green below. Of course feel free to change the contract traded and the quantities...

Expiry is 20150908

Getting orderid from IB
Using order id of 1

Placed order, orderid is 1

Getting orderid from IB
Using order id of 2

Placed limit order, orderid is 2

recived fill as follows:

{'orderid': '1', 'account': 'DU15031', 'exchange': 'DTB', 'symbol': 'GBL', 'permid': 193880352, 'execid': '00004468.559df2a0.01.01', 'clientid': '999', 'expiry': '20150908', 'price': 156.37, 'qty': 10, 'side': 'BOT', 'times': '20150709  14:05:11'}

Active orders: (should just be limit order)
{2: {'orderid': 2, 'symbol': 'GBL', 'qty': 10, 'side': 'SELL', 'clientid': 999L, 'expiry': '20150908'}}

Cancelling remaining orders
Cancelling 2
Waiting for cancellation to finish
No active orders now

Following executed since midnight this morning:

{'1': {'orderid': '1', 'account': 'DU15031', 'exchange': 'DTB', 'symbol': 'GBL', 'permid': 193880352, 'execid': '00004468.559df2a0.01.01', 'clientid': '999', 'expiry': '20150908', 'price': 156.37, 'qty': 10, 'side': 'BOT', 'times': '20150709  14:05:11'}}

Contract details - what is it?

As usual there is the tedious business of getting a client object and defining a contract. The first proper thing we need to do is get the contract details. This may sound a bit weird, we already have the contract details since we've just defined it? In practice the definition of a contract is very light and the details we get back are much richer.

There is one specific case where you must do this. To see why suppose it is a few months time and you are trading hundreds of futures contracts. A fill comes in for a particular contract instrument code and month/year. However as we shall see the identification for the contract isn't the 'yyyymm' code we use to define the contract, but the full expiry 'yyyymmdd'. You can't just take the first 6 characters of that either since some futures actually expire the month before they should. So to be on the safe side I usually get the expiry from IB before trading to make sure I am applying fills against the correct thingy.

Actually I don't do this immediately before trading but in a separate process that populates a database of contract information...


From test4_IB.py
     callback = IBWrapper()
    ibcontract = IBcontract()
    ibcontract.secType = "FUT"

WARNING: If you are trading the VIX, which now has weekly expiries, you will need to specify the full expiry date in yyyymmdd format.

I won't go through the client code in detail but there are two 'gotchas' in the server code that appear a few times so lets look at an excerpt.

From wrapper_v4.py, class IBWrapper:
    def contractDetails(self, reqId, contractDetails):       

        ## <SNIP - code removed>


        contract2 = contractDetails.summary

        ## <SNIP - code removed>

contract_details is of course a global object that gets picked up by the client object when populated. The first of the two gotchas here is an old one; if you are submitting multiple of these to the same API session watch out to use meaningful request ID's. More subtle is that we don't just do something like contract_details=contractDetails.Instead we actually extract the information into a new object. The reason is that the little jobbys are just weird pointers that will become pointers to something else, usually some weird memory address, by the time you look at them outside of the callback instance. So you have to capture their essence in the wild before they escape. This is the well known quantum pointers effect.

To find out more about contract and contractDetails objects look at the manual (C++ / SocketClient Properties).

Note I use a dicts or dicts of dicts here for contracts, orders and fills but in reality I have little classes for them to keep things neater.

Order placing - can I buy it?

Now the moment we've all been waiting for... we're actually going to buy something. For fun we're going to place two orders, a market order and a limit order.

From test4_IB.py 
     ## Place the order, asking IB to tell us what the next order id is
    ## Note limit price of zero
    orderid1=client.place_new_IB_order(ibcontract, 10, 0.0, "MKT", orderid=None)
    print ""
    print "Placed market order, orderid is %d" % orderid1
    ## And here is a limit order, unlikely ever to be filled
    ## Note limit price of 100
    orderid2=client.place_new_IB_order(ibcontract, -10, 200.0, "LMT", orderid=None)
    print ""
    print "Placed limit order, orderid is %d" % orderid2

 From wrapper_v4.py, class IBclient:  
    def place_new_IB_order(self, ibcontract, trade, lmtPrice, orderType, orderid=None):

        iborder = IBOrder()
        iborder.action = bs_resolve(trade)
        iborder.lmtPrice = lmtPrice
        iborder.orderType = orderType
        iborder.totalQuantity = abs(trade)

        ## We can eithier supply our own ID or ask IB to give us the next valid one
        if orderid is None:
            print "Getting orderid from IB"
        print "Using order id of %d" % orderid
         # Place the order
                orderid,                                    # orderId,
                ibcontract,                                   # contract,
                iborder                                       # order
        return orderid


Obvious first thing to notice here is the concept of an orderid. This is a number that identifies to IB what the order is; at least temporarily and for today only. Only restriction on order id's is that the next order is higher than the last. This means if you submit an order with an id of 999999 you will lose all the orderids below that. You can also reset the id 'clock' to 1 via an option on the Gateway or TWS API configuration menu.  Safest thing to do is ask IB for the next orderid as done here by supplying None to the calling function.

In practice I generate my own orderid's preferring to reserve them first in my own database. This is fine as long as you are running a single linear process where there is no chance of an 'older' order being submitted before a 'newer' one.

Notice the limit price of 0.0 for the market order won't be used. For more information on more funky order types see the docs:  Reference > Order Types and IBAlgos > Supported Order Types.

 Active order status- have I bought it?

IB can tell us what orders we are working. Unless you ask very quickly (or submit your order outside of trading hours) this is likely only to return limit orders.

From test4_IB.py 
    print "Active orders: (should just be limit order)"
    print order_structure
    print ""

 From wrapper_v4.py, class IBclient:  

    def get_open_orders(self):
        Returns a list of any open orders

        while not finished and not iserror:
            if (time.time() - start_time) > MAX_WAIT_SECONDS:
                ## You should have thought that IB would teldl you we had finished
        if iserror:
            print self.cb.error_msg
            print "Problem getting open orders"
        return order_structure   

From wrapper_v4.py, class IBWrapper:

    def init_openorders(self):
        setattr(self, "data_order_structure", {})
        setattr(self, "flag_order_structure_finished", False)

    def add_order_data(self, orderdetails):
        if "data_order_structure" not in dir(self):

        setattr(self, "data_order_structure", orderdata)

    def openOrder(self, orderID, contract, order, orderState):
        Tells us about any orders we are working now
        Note these objects are not persistent or interesting so we have to extract what we want
        ## Get a selection of interesting things about the order
        orderdetails=dict(symbol=contract.symbol , expiry=contract.expiry,  qty=int(order.totalQuantity) ,
                       side=order.action , orderid=int(orderID), clientid=order.clientId )

    def openOrderEnd(self):
        Finished getting open orders
        setattr(self, "flag_order_structure_finished", True)


In practice I have noticed that the correct end condition for receiving open orders doesn't always trigger so you do need an max waiting time (which is good practice anyway). Here we are just getting a selection of the available information about the order (see C++ > SocketClient Properties > Order and OrderState for more). Again we don't just save the order object itself as this is just a quantum pointer that will change.

Fill data - how much did it cost me?

What happens when an order is filled; completely or partially? Well the following method in the wrapper function is triggered. Notice that the logic is slightly more complicated because this function fulfills two duties. When it's called for a fill then reqId=-1, and action_ib_fill will be called.

From wrapper_v4.py, class IBWrapper:
    def execDetails(self, reqId, contract, execution):
    def execDetails(self, reqId, contract, execution):
        This is called if
        a) we have submitted an order and a fill has come back
        b) We have asked for recent fills to be given to us
        We populate the filldata object and also call action_ib_fill in case we need to do something with the
          fill data
        See API docs, C++, SocketClient Properties, Contract and Execution for more details
        execdetails=dict(side=str(side), times=str(exectime), orderid=str(thisorderid), qty=int(cumQty), price=float(avgprice), symbol=str(symbol), expiry=str(expiry), clientid=str(clientid), execid=str(execid), account=str(account), exchange=str(exchange), permid=int(permid))

        if reqId==FILL_CODE:
            ## This is a fill from a trade we've just done
            ## This is just execution data we've asked for
            self.add_fill_data(reqId, execdetails)

Again we extract the useful information from the contract and execution objects rather than saving them directly. More on the IB website docs C++ > SocketClient Properties > Execution. To reiterate the expiry here will be the actual yyyymmdd expiry date; not the shorter yyyymm that the original trade was constructed with, hence the need to identify the former before submission.

A brief technical note; the date is the contract expiry not where relevant first or last notice date. This means you should be wary of using this date to tell you when to roll certain kinds of futures contracts eg US bonds.

From IButils:

 def action_ib_fill(execlist):
    print "recived fill as follows:"
    print ""
    print execlist
    print ""

Although this is very boring in practice this would be the function that would update your order status database (as a pro at this stuff, naturally you would have such a thing). It won't be obvious from this simple example unless you can submit a very large order in a thin market but the fills come in as cumulative order updates, not separate fills. Its worth looking at an example. Suppose you try and buy 10 lots, and you get fills of:

  • 3 lots @ 100.0
  • 6 lots @ 100.2
  • 1 lot @ 100.5
 Then the fills that come in will look like this:

  • qty: 3 lots, price=100.0
  • qty: 9 lots, price=100.13333333
  • qty: 10 lots, price=100.17
So if you do care about each partial fill you are going to have to hope that you see every little fill coming in and use a differencing process to see the detail of each.

By the way 'orderid' is only a temporary thing for IB; after tommorrow it won't associate it with this order. Instead you should use 'permid' for your record keeping. 'execid' is different for each part fill so you could use it to make sure you aren't including fill information you already have; in practice this isn't problematic due to the cumulative nature of the information.

Order cancelling - what if I don't want it any more?

Its very easy indeed to cancel an order; we don't even need a call in the client object to do it.

From test4_IB.py
    print "Cancelling the limit order"

    print "Waiting for cancellation to finish"   
    while client.any_open_orders():
    print "No active orders now"
    print client.any_open_orders()
    print ""

Past execution data - sorry, repeat that, how much?!

It is clearly very important that fill data is correctly captured by your trading software. One reason being to keep track of what your position is; as we shall see in the next post IB doesn't offer mere mortals a super accurate current position facility. So I generally use my own knowledge of trade history to decide where I am, position wise. Because the fills usually arrive in the wrapper function only once its possible under certain conditions to miss them; eg if your API client dies before you see the fill or just isn't running when one arrives on a previously closed market in the middle of the night. Its generally good practice then to reconcile what IB has for a record of fills versus your own.

This information is only available up to midnight of the day you trade. So I run a reconciliation 3 times a day. If you lose a fill from before today you will need to find it on the IB website account management microsite, and manually enter it into your database.

Here is how we do it.

From test4_IB.py 

    print "Following executed since midnight this morning:"
    print ""
    print execlist

 From wrapper_v4.py, class IBclient:  
    def get_executions(self):
        Returns a list of all executions done today
        assert type(reqId) is int
        if reqId==FILL_CODE:
            raise Exception("Can't call get_executions with a reqId of %d as this is reserved for fills %d" % reqId)

        ## We can change ExecutionFilter to subset different orders
        self.tws.reqExecutions(reqId, ExecutionFilter())

        while not finished and not iserror:
            if (time.time() - start_time) > MAX_WAIT_SECONDS:
        if iserror:
            print self.cb.error_msg
            print "Problem getting executions"
        return execlist

We can change ExecutionFilter to subset different orders (C++ > SocketClient Properties > ExecutionFilter).

From wrapper_v4.py, class IBWrapper:
    def execDetails(self, reqId, contract, execution):

        <SNIP - same code as before>
        execdetails=dict(side=str(side), times=str(exectime), orderid=str(thisorderid), qty=int(cumQty), price=float(avgprice), symbol=str(symbol), expiry=str(expiry), clientid=str(clientid), execid=str(execid), account=str(account), exchange=str(exchange), permid=int(permid))

        if reqId==FILL_CODE:
            ## This is a fill from a trade we've just done
            ## This is just execution data we've asked for
            self.add_fill_data(reqId, execdetails)

    def add_fill_data(self, reqId, execdetails):
        if "data_fill_data" not in dir(self):

        if reqId not in filldata.keys():
        setattr(self, "data_fill_data", filldata)

    def execDetailsEnd(self, reqId):
        No more orders to look at if execution details requested

        setattr(self, "flag_fill_data_finished", True)

Its the same hardworking function as before, only this time the reqId will not be -1 (appearing here as FILL_CODE rather than being hardcoded) so we append the fill that is received to a list which is returned to the user.

Are we finished?

 Yes, at least with this post. The last thing I will show you how to do is to get accounting information, so the tedium is nearly over.

This is the fourth in a series of five posts on constructing a simple interface in python to the IB API using swigiby. The first three posts are:




The next post is


  1. Hi,

    First of all, great help!

    I ran test2_IB.py and running into some issues. Would appreciate some help.


    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "test2_IB.py", line 20, in
    File "/Users/xxx/Ibapi/ibswigsystematicexamples/sysIB/wrapper_v2.py", line 157, in get_IB_historical_data
    1, # formatDate
    TypeError: Required argument 'chartOptions' (pos 10) not found

    1. It looks like the API has been updated recently (I ran the example without updating it, and mine still works). You need to include an extra argument. So at line 149 of wrapper_v2.py to read:

      tickerid, # tickerId,
      ibcontract, # contract,
      today.strftime("%Y%m%d %H:%M:%S %Z"), # endDateTime,
      durationStr, # durationStr,
      barSizeSetting, # barSizeSetting,
      "TRADES", # whatToShow,
      1, # useRTH,
      1, # formatDate

      Let me know if it works.

    2. I found None in the swigpy example.

    3. Okay I will take your word for it. The IB API documentation shows XYZ. It is very stupid to be forced to pass an empty argument. This is why I don't update my API if I can help it.

  2. Hi Rob,

    Run into errors with client.get_executions() and I have two questions regarding the code.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated!

    1) in def get_executions(), the code request list of executions from TWS using self.tws.reqExecutions(...) and somehow the data shows up in the IBWrapper() in self.cb.data_fill_data[reqId]? How does that work?

    2) Under Class IBWrapper(), function add_fill_data() and execDetails() have only been called within each other but not been callback under Class IBClient. What do those function fit in the whole scheme of things?

    I am executing the code in off hours so there's no fill. Order placement, checking active orders, and order cancellation all works fine. But getting execution details seems not to be working; data_fill_data is only a {} and reqId is not associated with anything.

    Here's the error code:

    Traceback (most recent call last):

    File "", line 1, in
    runfile('C:/Python27/User/swigibpy/ibswigsystematicexamples-master/test4_IB.py', wdir='C:/Python27/User/swigibpy/ibswigsystematicexamples-master')

    File "C:\Python27\lib\site-packages\spyderlib\widgets\externalshell\sitecustomize.py", line 685, in runfile
    execfile(filename, namespace)

    File "C:\Python27\lib\site-packages\spyderlib\widgets\externalshell\sitecustomize.py", line 71, in execfile
    exec(compile(scripttext, filename, 'exec'), glob, loc)

    File "C:/Python27/User/swigibpy/ibswigsystematicexamples-master/test4_IB.py", line 80, in

    File "sysIB\wrapper_v4.py", line 457, in get_executions

    KeyError: 1729

    1. 1) in def get_executions(), the code request list of executions from TWS using self.tws.reqExecutions(...) and somehow the data shows up in the IBWrapper() in self.cb.data_fill_data[reqId]? How does that work?

      2) Under Class IBWrapper(), function add_fill_data() and execDetails() have only been called within each other but not been callback under Class IBClient. What do those function fit in the whole scheme of things?

      What happens is when you call IBclient.get_executions, specifically self.tws.reqExecutions(reqId, ExecutionFilter()):

      - the IB server starts sending details of any executions done today
      - the IB wrapper receives these details, and will call execDetails when it gets one
      - This then calls self.add_fill_data(reqId, execdetails) [unless it's a fill for an active order]
      - This adds the execution data to a dictionary, keyed off reqId
      - when too much time has elapsed or there is no more data to come, we stop and return

      There is more explanation of how the server and client talk to each other in the first post in the series.

      As to your problem; well outside of market hours it would be a surprise if you had any fills... try and do this in market hours and see if you get the same problem


    2. Great! Thanks for the explanation.

      The code did work for my paper account during market hours after the trade went through. I guess one more exceptions to catch for me!

  3. Hi Rob,
    one quick question, how do you introduce the price for limit or stop orders for futures bonds? Like ZF, ZN... i try a lot of ways but IB API is rejecting my price always, could you help me? Thanks

    1. Sorry... it just works for me without doing anything special. You'll have to speak to IB support.

  4. Hi Rob,
    Do you have any advice on VWAP or Arrival Price orders? I cannot find a way to execute these in IB...

    1. No sorry I don't use any special order types so I can't help you. Try IB support or the appropriate forums on elitetrader.com


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