We are starting work on the next version of Chem4Word.
What features would you like to see in it?
Please make any suggestions in the our Facebook group
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The Chem4Word Project began in 2008 as a collaboration between Microsoft Research and the University of Cambridge. The project’s original instigators, Tony Hey and Peter Murray-Rust, intended to add the capability to create and edit chemical structures within the world’s most popular word processor, Microsoft Word. This was novel enough in itself, but the ‘Chemistry Add-In for Word’ was intended to be an open source project, a radical departure for Microsoft.
Eight years on, Microsoft has since placed and supported many products into and in the open-source domain, and Chem4Word still flourishes. Although we are a small volunteer team we have just released a major update, with dramatically improved chemical structure rendering. Chem4Word has been downloaded over 200,000 times and has users all over the world.
We are currently planning new features that will make Chem4Word even more powerful and easy to use. We are also optimising the storage model, which will lead eventually to performance improvements.
To help support these new developments, we are transferring ownership of the code base to the .NET Foundation. We give our heartfelt thanks to the support that we have received from the OuterCurve Foundation over the past 8 years, and the guidance of Microsoft Research and Cambridge University. None of this would have been possible without their original vision.
We look forward greatly to working with the .NET Foundation, in helping to develop Chem4Word into the leading freely-available, open-source cheminformatics tool. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in whatever way to this project!
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There are lots of software products out there that collect ‘usage’ data and many of us simply accept the terms and conditions without giving it a thought. Chem4Word is no exception, but I thought that I would share some of it back with you!
The current beta release has been collecting information about Office version, operating system and IP address as well as other bits of data to see which parts of the addin you actually use.
Mike wrote some software to extract this data from the data tables in which they are stored and Clyde then used Knime to extract useful information. I wondered whether it would be possible to extract the data directly into Knime to make the process simpler. After a bit of searching, I found a JDBC driver (http://www.cdata.com/drivers/azure/jdbc/) written to connect directly to Azure table storage; exactly what I needed. The evaluation version worked brilliantly and after a short email discussion, CData kindly donated a license to use this driver to the project team. Thanks CData! We really appreciate your help!
So, what can we do with the data, now that we’ve extracted it and processed it with Knime. With the IP address, we can use a free lookup service (http://freegeoip.net/) to get a city location and Knime has a node that allows us to automate this. We can then use an Open Source Maps node in Knime to automatically show these locations on a world map! It is really interesting to see how widely the addin is used across the world, but we’re still waiting for a user in Antarctica!
What is more usetul to us is to know what version of Microsoft Word is being used with the addin.
Supporting multiple versions of Word means we have to maintain multiple versions of the code that produces the images in the addin. So, what have we found?
We’ll publish more data as we go on, and show you more views of the data that is so valuable to us in understanding how you use the Chemistry addin for Microsoft Word.
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The latest version of Chem4Word the Chemistry AddIn for Microsoft Word is available for download. In version 3.0.*, we’ve addressed a number of issues, including the following:
We’ve also made some changes to the way that usage data is collected to help us to understand which versions of Microsoft Word are being used with the AddIn.
Please download the latest version from here.
Well, you’re reading this post, so that you obviously already know that the Chem4Word project has a new website. We’re a very small group of people working on, what we believe, is a very useful add-in for Microsoft Word.
There are plenty of applications that allow users to draw chemical structures, but the unique point of this add-in is that chemistry information is actually stored within the Microsoft Word document file. The image that you see in the document is simply a representation of the underlying chemical information in a human-readable form. Embedded in the document file is an XML structure which represents the chemical structure in Chemical Markup Language.
I’m sure that, at some point, one of us will try to explain why we think that this is important. In the meantime, get yourself a copy of the latest version, and have a look at the high quality chemical structures that you can import or draw in your Microsoft Word documents!