I think option chains are not represented in the best way. With more and more options products coming out and trading on the various exchanges, I see vendors struggling to keep up with a good way to represent the option chain.
examples of this in the USA are the Weekly options that trade now, Weekly options being listed for the next 5 weeks now, the super leaps that last for 3 or more years, and the mini-options that will begin trading in March 2013. These are all intermingled amongst quarterly options, and others.
This is a summary of the chain for SPY (Standard and Poors ETF) , by next month there will also be mini-options listed on this options chain, somehow
Each individual expiration has a list (chain) of calls, across from puts
The typical option chain is simply cluttered now, and selecting by month or expiration date from a drop down list (google finance's way) is also less intuitive now in my opinion. My opinion is that there are other possible ways to display the option chain that are better
I've seen even less intuitive ooption chains that don't separate weekly's from monthly's and have them all on the same chain, just with different symbol identifiers, listed alphabetically at the same strike price.
One idea I was playing around with was a zoomable sunburst chart, but I haven't yet hashed out what dimensions the sunburst chart would display and how it would be helpful.
interact with this example here http://www.jasondavies.com/coffee-wheel/
I was thinking something along the lines of having shorter expirations at the edges and longer expirations in the middle, or vice versa
or maybe showing which expirations had highest implied volatility away from the center.
each individual node could represent one contract, and visually show volume or open interest over time for that one contract. clicking that node reveals a zoomed in version of it where the volume/oi stats could be more obvious. mousing over could reveal more information, or individual contract information could appear alongside of the graph to the left
anyone, I would like to at least get some input on a sunburst visualization for options so I can expand upon or scrap the idea within a few days time
can you think of any utility behind this quantitative analysis of an option chain? there are other visualizations too. This would be mainly for analyzing options, not necessarily making quick trading decisions in some current software you are familiar with
UPDATE: so mini options are listed now. Here is a comparison of the Standard & Poors ETF (SPY) option chain in 2009 vs 2013
2009: no Weekly options (options that expire in a week). Those were invented in 2010 and only one weeklies contract series traded at a time. There were only 3-month monthly contracts, LEAPs that expired on a certain interval (which could also be monthlies once their expiration date wasshort but did not trade parallel to them), and quarterly options.
2013: Weekly options that trade for the current week and the next five weeks. Monthly contracts, quarterlies, LEAPs, SUPER LEAPS, and mini options for most types.
Again, my main supposition is that there is possibly a way to display option chains that can better illuminate the data presented.