Chemical structure drawing packages are an essential tool for chemists in this day and age. There are many free offerings from chemistry software vendors given to the community. Companies such as ChemAxon, ACD/Labs, Cambridgesoft and others give their structure drawing packages to the community (as well as many other tools for some companies). Now a new structure drawing package has entered the freeware offerings and this is likely going to stir up the community. Many chemists will remember MDL and their ISIS Draw offering. For the longest period of time ISIS Draw and Cambridgesoft ChemDraw were the “most accepted” drawing packages – publishers would accept molecular structures submitted only from these applications. Despite the growth in popularity of other applications these remained the preferred tools. In industry these two held the primary position. In my previous role as Chief Science Officer at ACD/Labs I was very happy about the fact that we offered the ACD/ChemSketch package to the community and it is still available and new versions released on an ongoing basis. It’s a great package and almost a million downloads have been given away.

Now however Symyx Draw is available for free for academic and personal use. “Symyx Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: SMMX) today announced that Symyx Draw 3.1, the chemical drawing application that replaces industry-leading ISIS/Draw, is now available for download at no charge for academic and non-commercial personal use ( Symyx Draw 3.1 enables scientists to draw and edit complex chemical structures and reactions with ease, facilitating the collaborative searching, viewing, registering, and archiving of scientific information. To support academic researchers, Symyx Draw 3.1 also offers exceptional publication-quality drawing capabilities for presentations, reports and scientific papers, as well as improved integration with the Microsoft® Office suite of software applications. ”

Symyx Draw is a great replacement for ISIS Draw. It offers capabilities not previously offered in ISIS Draw. In particular, in my own area of interest it INCLUDES the generation of IUPAC Names and conversion of chemical names to structures. I tested some quite complex structures converting in both directions. Name generation from complex structures was very good. Conversion of chemical names back to structures worked well but I could not see how to generate the stereocenters in the resulting structures.I like the ability to search for InChIKeys across the internet directly – good thinking (and of course the searches I did took me to ChemSpider in 90% of the cases…)

Symyx Draw is offered with a whole series of add-ins that will extend its already excellent capabilities.I won’t list them here but point you to the list online.

I’ve just scratched the surface in learning the software package but I’ll likely switch to it for the next month or so as I did with Google Chrome. Then I can find it’s limitations and advantages and add it to the mix.

Maybe they’ll consider providing an add-in to search ChemSpider directly as ACD/Labs did with their add-on (the add-on does need updating by ACD/Labs however).

Welcome Symyx Draw to the mix…it’s a great offering

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