Most of the chemical structure diagrams in this blog originate from Chemdraw, which seems to have been around since the dawn of personal computers! I have tended to use this program to produce JPG bitmaps for the blog, writing them out in 4x magnification, so that they can be scaled down for display whilst retaining some measure of higher resolution if needed for other purposes. These other purposes might be for e.g. the production of e-books (using Calibre), the interesting Blog(e)book format offered as a service by Feedfabrik, or display on mobile tablets where the touch-zoom metaphor to magnify works particularly well. But bitmap images are not really well future proofed for such new uses. Here I explore one solution to this issue.
Posts Tagged ‘Peter Murray-Rust’
I have for perhaps the last 25 years been urging publishers to recognise how science publishing could and should change. My latest thoughts are published in an article entitled “The past, present and future of Scientific discourse” (DOI: 10.1186/1758-2946-3-46). Here I take two articles, one published 58 years ago and one published last year, and attempt to reinvent some aspects. You can see the result for yourself (since this journal is laudably open access, and you will not need a subscription). The article is part of a special issue, arising from a one day symposium held in January 2011 entitled “Visions of a Semantic Molecular Future“ in celebration of Peter Murray-Rust’s contributions over that period (go read all 15 articles on that theme in fact!).
I asked a while back whether blogs could be considered a serious form of scholarly scientific communication (and so has Peter Murray-Rust more recently). A case for doing so might be my post of about a year ago, addressing why borane reduces a carboxylic acid, but not its ester, where I suggested a possible mechanism. Well, colleagues have raised some interesting questions, both on the blog itself and more silently by email to me. As a result, I have tried to address some of these questions, and accordingly my original scheme needs some revision! This sort of iterative process of getting to the truth with the help of the community (a kind of crowd-sourced chemistry) is where I feel blogs do have a genuine role to play.
Computers and I go back a while (44 years to be precise), and it struck me (with some horror) that I have been around them for ~62% of the modern computing era (Babbage notwithstanding, ~1940 is normally taken as the start of the modern computing era). So indulge me whilst I record this perspective from the viewpoint of the computers I have used over this 62% of the computing era. (more…)
For those of us who were around in 1985, an important chemical IT innovation occurred. We could acquire a computer which could be used to draw chemical structures in one application, and via a mysterious and mostly invisible entity called the clipboard, paste it into a word processor (it was called a Macintosh). Perchance even print the result on a laserprinter. Most students of the present age have no idea what we used to do before this innovation! Perhaps not in 1985, but at some stage shortly thereafter, and in effect without most people noticing, the return journey also started working, the so-called round trip. It seemed natural that a chemical structure diagram subjected to this treatment could still be chemically edited, and that it could make the round trip repeatedly. Little did we realise how fragile this round trip might be. Years later, the computer and its clipboard, the chemistry software, and the word processor had all moved on many generations (it is important to flag that three different vendors were involved, all using proprietary formats to weave their magic). And (on a Mac at least) the round-tripping no longer worked. Upon its return to (Chemdraw in this instance), it had been rendered inert, un-editable, and devoid of semantic meaning unless a human intervened. By the way, this process of data-loss is easily demonstrated even on this blog. The chemical diagrams you see here are similarly devoid of data, being merely bit-mapped JPG images. Which is why, on many of these posts, I put in the caption Click for 3D, which gives you access to the chemical data proper (in CML or other formats). And I throw in a digital repository identifier for good measure should you want a full dataset.
The preceeding blog entries contain stories about chemical behaviour. If you have clicked on the diagrams, you may even have gotten a Jmol view of the relevant molecules popping up. But if you are truly curious, you may even have the urge to acquire the relevant 3D information about the molecule, and play with it yourself. Even after 15 years of the (chemical) Web, this can be distressingly difficult to achieve (or can it be that it is only myself who wishes to view molecules in their native mode?). Thus the standard mechanism is to seek out on journal pages that disarming little entry entitled supporting information and to hope that you might find something useful embedded there. Embedded is the correct description, since the information is often found within the confines of an Acrobat file, and has to be extracted from there. Indeed, that is what I had to resort to in order to write one of the blog entries below. I ground my teeth whilst doing so.
So is there a better way? We think so! The digital repository. If you click on this you should see the entry directly. What can you do there? Well, if you have suitable programs, you can download eg a Checkpoint file of the calculation that created the molecule model and re-activate it there. Or you can download just the CML file for viewing in any CML-compliant program (such as e.g. Jmol). Or you can check up on the InCHi string or the InChI Key of the molecule.