Archive for the Alpha/Beta Testing Category

‘Twas the night before Tuesday and all through the house, ChemSpider was running then got hit with a louse.

An unfortunate outage last night for ChemSpider as it went down for about three hours. Despite our best efforts to track the issue to something we can control the logfiles suggest that it was actuaal a web server glitch. Our want is to have system redundancy for just such a situation but unfortunately that will require yet another investment in hardware and that is simply not feasible at this time due to “employment status” and insufficient availability of funds. Unlike the majority (or all) of the similar systems online providing this service ChemSpider is funded by the hosts and there are no grants, capital investors or rich uncles behind it! We are up to a grand sum of about $2.50 a day from Google Adsense so can buy a Starbucks coffee cup now…another $1 and we’ll be filling it.

Even with server redundancy we are still at the mercy of ISP outages and power outages so are presently in discussions to see if there is a separate facility where we can have redundancy and less chance of outages.

Meanwhile, if I have a rich uncle out there reading the blog and you’d like to help sponsor the site we are accepting help! If you want to donate a server to the cause we’ll take it.

As a user of ChemSpider you may have noticed of late the persistence of an increasing number of timeouts following searches. The issue has been traced down and resolved, we hope. However, it appears that this issue had persisted for a “while” but it was only recently brought to our attention. There is an ongoing increase in ChemSpider usage and as the load on the servers increases the system is starting to respond, sometimes inappropriately. In order to optimize performance based on load we need YOUR feedback when you see either performance issues or simply bugs or behaviors which don’t make sense.

Please don’t assume that someone else will report a behavior you observe. Let us know directly by sending an email to feedback.AT.chemspider.com (represented this way for the purpose of anti-spam). You will find us very responsive and willing to help. Thanks

We do not hide issues with ChemSpider…we expose them. Since we went live with our beta version of ChemSpider on March 27th we have kept an update of known bugs on our website at our Known Bugs page. As we knock off the bugs one by one, based on priority, we simply remove them from the page so what you see are known issues.

While updating the database in the past week to drive us above 14.5 Million compounds we have identified two new issues that you should be aware of.
1) We have long known that our structure cleaning algorithm has limitations. There are some example catastrophic failures in the latest database. For the time being we have no solution to this but are presently looking at potential solutions including that available in the CDK.
2) Some of the InChI strings are very long. We use SQL Server for indexing the strings for searching but SQL server has a 900 character limitation for indexed fields. As a result strings longer than 900 characters have been truncated. We know how to resolve this and will do so in the near future as time permits.

There has been an increase in the number of new feature requests and bug reports in the past week. Many of the bug reports were actually not…they were simply ease-of-use issues and the need to read that dreaded manual. There were of course some bug reports so thanks for those!

The recent burst in input and feedback has prompted us to inquire of you, our users, how is ChemSpider and all of its associated features working?

We’re interested in answers to the following questions:
1) Where you are finding the greatest value – is it the database search or is it the prediction services?
2) What is your favorite feature on the system?
3) Which of the list of properties is of greatest value to you?
4) What is that “to die for” feature you wished was available on ChemSpider?
5) What can we do to help you get the maximum value out of the system?
6) What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Chat with us, and this blog audience, and let us know …