No response or errors downloading option chains

Data is downloaded by a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) that is run as an embedded application within the Browse window of Options Laboratory Strategist. Therefore, when you have problems, you can always run Internet Explorer in the usual way you do your web browsing; go to http://www.cboe.com/ and try the delayed quote service from your web browser.

A lot goes on "behind the scenes" before Options Laboratory receives an option chain. You type in a ticker symbol. Then Internet Explorer must navigate to the right web site and issue the request for data. The prices come from more than one exchange, and must be gathered and consolidated before being passed on to you. This can take a little time and occasionally may not work at all, especially when the markets are extremely active.

There are still potholes in the Information Superhighway.

If a download doesn't work, the first thing to do is click the yellow "stop sign" button in the browse window. Then test whether Internet Explorer is properly configured on your computer to download option chains.

Is Internet Explorer properly configured on your computer to download option chains?

To test whether MSIE is properly configured, do the following.

  1. Start Microsoft Internet Explorer in the usual way (that is, as an ordinary web browser, not the copy inside Options Laboratory). You must perform the following steps using Internet Explorer, not any other browser that may be installed on your computer.
  2. Type this URL into MSIE and press the [Enter] key:   http://www.cboe.com/
  3. When the CBOE home page comes up, select Delayed Quotes from the Quotes navigation menu near the top left of the home page.
  4. When the Delayed Quotes page comes up, click the link that says  Download Text File.
  5. Now the Quote Table Download page will be displayed. Type in a valid stock ticker such as IBM, and click the Download button.
  6. If your browser is configured correctly, you will see a dialog asking whether you want to save the data or open the file. Choose Save.
  7. Next, a Windows Save as dialog box will appear, asking where you want to save the file. This dialog will normally refer to whatever directory was the last place where you saved any data downloaded via Internet Explorer. The default is your Desktop folder (the stuff you see on the main screen of your computer). If necessary, use this dialog to force the option chain file to be saved on your Desktop. You can change the location via the Save in list at the top of the dialog window.

If all this works, your computer is properly configured and Options Laboratory should also be able to fetch option chains.

If the server responds but no data file is downloaded (you are not prompted to save anything on your Desktop)

Assuming you entered a valid ticker symbol, for a stock that has options, then here are some common reasons the process might fail.

  1. Cookies must be enabled. The CBOE web server first returns cookies to tell your browser where to find the chain you requested. Then the web browser makes a second request that actually gets the data. If cookies are suppressed, this won't work. Cookies might be disabled by Internet Explorer security settings; by an anti-virus program; by a firewall installed on your PC; or by your company's own security policies.
  2. The security setting on Internet Explorer might be too high. That can suppress cookies, and can prevent the browser from saving files.
  3. "Referrer logging" might be disabled in your web browser or your firewall. That will also prevent the process from working.
  4. Your firewall might for some reason be blocking the request.

All these reasons for failure apply whether you run Internet Explorer manually, or from within Options Laboratory. If you can do it by hand, it should also work in Options Laboratory. If you can't do it by hand, following the steps outlined above, please contact your systems administrator for help.

If the server doesn't respond

Occasionally, the CBOE servers may not respond at all within a reasonable time. Then an error message will eventually be displayed in the status bar at the bottom of the Options Laboratory window (like when you browse to a web site and nothing happens), and Internet Explorer should report the problem in the Browse window. If you get impatient, you can abort a chain retrieval by clicking the little yellow "stop sign" next to the Get option chain button.

If things don't seem to be working, visit the CBOE web site with your web browser, without running Options Laboratory. If your web browser is slow or unresponsive there, then Options Laboratory will also get bogged down because it asks Internet Explorer to perform its downloads.

Previous versions of Options Laboratory incorporated an Internet Trace Tool to help diagnose network problems. This feature has been eliminated, since Options Laboratory itself no longer incorporates any programming code to directly access the Internet. Microsoft Internet Explorer does all the work; Options Laboratory just asks it to do so.