ChemWriter, Chemical Structures, and the Web

November 27, 2007

Of all the components that make up today's cheminformatics systems, the 2D structure editor may be the most widely-used. A 2D structure editor is often a chemist's first and most enduring exposure to cheminformatics, and can be encountered as early as Junior High or High School.

Over time, a good 2D structure editor becomes every bit as important to a chemist as a text editor is to a writer or software developer. At any given ACS organic division symposium, you're likely to find several bench chemists who only casually, if ever, use a 3D molecular modelling program; finding any who don't regularly use a 2D structure editor would be much more challenging.

2D structure editors are ubiquitous. They can be found in one form or another in most cheminformatics systems, ranging from databases, to standalone applications, to property calculators, and even 3D molecular modelling programs.

Despite the importance of structure editors, they don't get much attention among cheminformatics developers. For example, if your bibliography is anything like mine, it contains dozens of papers on molecular descriptors. Yet the number of cheminformatics papers describing the design of ergonomic chemical structure editors is, well, one or maybe two.

About ChemWriter

ChemWriter™ is a new product aimed at making 2D chemical structure editors a lot more interesting, easy to use, and versatile than they have been in the past. Designed specifically as a lightweight, extendable component, ChemWriter is ideal for use in chemically-enabled Web applications.

The second beta version of ChemWriter has recently been released by my company, Metamolecular, LLC. A recent article on the Metamolecular company blog discusses ChemWriter in more detail.

The Structure Editor In-Depth

Because the design and use of 2D chemical structure editors is an unusual subject in cheminformatics, a compilation of articles on the topic from Depth-First and the Metamolecular Web site is provided below. Many of these articles refer to "Firefly", which was ChemWriter's name during early development.

Why the Structure Editor Matters

Creating ChemWriter

Using ChemWriter

Extending ChemWriter