Functions and annotations

Pine Script distinguishes between functions and annotation functions (or just annotations). Syntactically they are similar, but they have different purposes and usage effects.

Functions are used for calculating values and most of the time return a result. Some functions have side effects (e.g., strategy.entry, strategy.exit). Function calls are used in expressions along with operators. Essentially, they determine the calculation algorithm. Functions are divided into built-in and user-defined. Examples of built-in functions: sma, ema, rsi.

Function annotations are used for determining meta information which describes an indicator being created (they also have side effects). All annotations are built-in. Annotations may

  • assign a name to an indicator
  • determine which variables appear incoming and outgoing (by default, It’s also possible to assign a name and default values for incoming variables). Outgoing variables are displayed on the chart as graphs or other layouts.
  • some other visual effects (e.g., background coloring)

Name, color and each graph’s display style are determined in annotations. Examples of annotation functions: study, input, plot.

A few annotations have not only side effects (in the form of determining meta information) but also return a result. plot and hline are such annotations. However this result can be used only in other annotations and can’t take part in the indicator’s calculations (see annotation fill).

A detailed overview of available Pine Script annotations could be found here.

Syntactically, user-defined functions, built-in functions and annotation functions are similar in use within the script: to use either function or annotation one should specify its name as well as the list of actual arguments in parentheses. The main difference is in usage semantic. Also, there is a difference in passing arguments — annotations and built-in functions accept keyword arguments while user-defined functions do not (see release note on kwargs in built-in functions).

Example of an annotation call with positional arguments:

study('Example', 'Ex', true)

Compare it with the equivalent call but with keyword arguments:

study(title='Example', shorttitle='Ex', overlay=true)

It’s possible to mix positional and keyword arguments. Positional arguments must go first and keyword arguments should follow them. So the following call is not valid:

study(precision=3, 'Example') // Compilation error!
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