When we first started the ChemSpider project we made a commitment to “Build a Structure Centric Community for Chemists”. We are well on the way to facilitating that we believe. We have talked about a “wiki” environment for collaboration. In this framework we see wiki to indicate a “collaborative environment”, not necessarily adherence to a specific wiki-platform. Our intention is to provide the ability for users of ChemSpider to collaborate in the co-management of content on the ChemSpider site. A number of our readers have taken our statements to indicate that we will be using the same wiki platform as that utilized on Wikipedia. We have looked at and considered a number of “wiki” tools, platforms, interfaces and user-experiences. At this time we have made a decision to utilize Microsoft Sharepoint as the platform on which to construct our wiki-environment. With a clear commitment to Web 2.0 already declared and our platform built on SQL server and ASP.NET we feel it is the appropriate platform for us to build on. We believe the correct platform choice has already demonstrated that we can deploy a good solution very quickly because of our technology choices.

Now, we realize that this might result in a series of jabs about us not using Open Source solutions and so on but we are more focused on delivering an appropriate scalable solution than building ChemSpider only on Open Source software. We will support anyone who wishes to do the same on Open Source though.

We will keep you informed of our progress. Now we need to migrate ourselves to .NET3 and we hope this will be a short term disruption in the future as we switch over. Watch this space.

Stumble it!

8 Responses to “The ChemSpider Team Chooses Our Future Platform for Collaboration – Microsoft SharePoint”

  1. Windows Vista News says:

    The ChemSpider Team Chooses Our Future Platform for Collaboration …

    Interesting point at http://www.chemspider.com

  2. Jean-Claude Bradley says:

    I look forward to seeing what it can do and I think the majority of chemists don’t care what you run on the backend – as long as the service is free, hosted and open to be used to solve problems.

  3. Egon Willighagen says:

    I am not familiar with the product, so really can’t and won’t judge on why not using OS tools. I’m sure this is the cheaper product for your situation. You mention “[you] will support anyone who wishes to do the same on Open Source though”… what does SharePoint have that other options did not? That make you pick that option? What options does SharePoint have in terms of interoperability?

  4. Rich Apodaca says:

    I’m not too familiar with SharePoint. What were the top 2 or 3 features that tipped the balance?

  5. Antony Williams says:

    Rich and Egon,

    The top reasons for the decision are as follows:

    1) We’ve already established ourselves on the Microsoft platform, ASP.NET specifically. Our experience is that it has been difficult to connect with common open access/source technologies which already provide a wiki environment. These environments are commonly in PHP, JSP, etc.

    2) Sharepoint already provides a simple wiki-like application and, in our opinion, Sharepoint provides a great platform for quick portal development as evidenced by our observations to date.

    3) Sharepoint is built on ASP.NET and is an infrastructure for the development of portals and allows users to customize parts of the application to their needs. We are going to develop web components for our portal and if Sharepoint does not suffice we will rework them to continue with our ASP.NET development.

    4) Our development team have a lot of experience in ASP.NET technologies and can make fast progress in this known environment. With the growing list of requests we need to be nimble!

    5) Microsoft have shown a clear commitment to Web 2.0. We believe that this declaration stands us in good stead for the future.

    6) Interoperability is intended to be via web services as we have already done with our MassSpec web service, our InChI web services and our other WS. Are there specific interoperability issues you are considering Egon?

    We will be sticking to ASP.NET for the foreseeable future and even if Sharepoint will not be flexible enough for our needs we will continue ASP.NET development.

  6. Brian Willson (Microsoft) says:

    I ran across your blog while doing some research on interesting projects going on in the chemical field with web 2.0 capabilities. Thank you for choosing our platform for your work. I’ll stay tuned to the blog to read your thoughts about SharePoint as you make progress on the project.

    I recently posted an observation about the lack of web 2.0 usage to build community within the industry – though I’ve seen more and more interest from the chemical companies I have talked to over the last few months. I promised to do some digging over the holidays and your project was one of the first that popped up in my searches.

    Good stuff. I’ll stay tuned to learn more.

  7. ChemSpider - My first step in proving my previous post wrong - Noticias externas says:

    [...] their ChemSpider blog, I stumbled on the fact that they are using a lot of our platform to build out their capabilities [...]

  8. Anirban Ghosh says:

    A Day in the life of a Chemist involves myriad sets of tasks and activities which covers information life cycle of search, information aggregation, visualization of patterns, collaborating with other scientists and partners, and reporting identified outcome to the decision makers. In order to enable these sets of tasks, a services based inter-operable and scalable platform can manage such chemist specific tasks.
    I have published a paper titled Chemistry Workbench, which suggests how services consumed and provided by the chemistry community can be facilitated by a composite application.
    Also, messaging, alerting, and providing real-time communication is very key to connect a disparate and large heterogeneous multi-disciplinary and super-specialization line of research environment. So, Wikis, Blogs, Instant Messenger, RSS Feeds – all are great tools which will facilitate collaboration and connectedness among scientific communities.
    The challenge is how various application in open source platforms can be connected to one seamless facade to promote a monolithic view?
    Will it be yet another tool for the scientists?
    Will scientists need a lot of training to start using such a modern interface which provides a composite interface?
    Will the modern platform accommodate all functional and office applications, support semi-structured work flows, enable database cross-talks, and help drive share and exchange of information in real time?

    With these point in the background – I feel dot.NET based SharePoint Platform with BizTalk and Web Service and SQL Server is a good pick on porting the ChemSpider Application Portfolio to bring in additional dimensions of Collaboration and Connectedness.

    I till do like the Java beans and Linux :)

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