Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chem4Word goes Apache 2.0

Early March I reported about Konstantin's JChemPaint-based chemistry plugin for OpenOffice, but there is (friendly) competition: Chem4Word. Being for Microsoft Word, the plugin only works on top of proprietary software, unfortunately; therefore, I cannot tell you if Chem4Word release is any good, but what Jim has showed me about a year ago, it is pretty cool. Another big difference is that Microsoft gave the Chem4Word a big grant, and Konstantin does not have such funding, AFAIK, and relies on community support.

Now, Chem4Word was released earlier this month, as announced by Joe, and I just heard from Jim about it now being opensourced (and Peter blogged it too). Congratulations to all involved in the development! The Chem4Word project page indicates the actual license: Apache 2.0. Good choice!

Now, I said that a limitation of the plugin is that it requires proprietary software to run. This is why you will not quickly see my use it. Well, this is even why you do not see any screenshot! However, this should not spoil the news. This is for two reasons:
  1. The plug-in is Open Source: this means that the community can learn from their project, and how the make molecular structures in Word documents semantic.
  2. The plug-in saves the chemistry in the Chemical Markup Language in the XML-based Word document: this means that anyone will be able to extract the molecular structures in a semantic meaningful way.
And that's, to me, the biggest news: if the organic chemists start using this plug-in, this will be a big win for Open Data. I am sure this is the hidden agenda of an unorthodox move of our fellow Blue Obelisk community members.

Update: made clear I was not referring to hostile competition.

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