MolSync and MMDS integration

New versions of the Mobile Molecular DataSheet (MMDS) (v1.3) and MolSync (v1.1) are now available on the iTunes AppStore. This is a tandem-release, because the two apps have been enhanced so that they work together explicitly.

The original one-point-zero release of the MolSync app provided a fairly basic feature set, which started out by setting up access to a Dropbox repository, browsing folders, viewing chemical data (molecules, reactions and datasheets), converting between chemical file formats, generating graphics, opening files by passing them to other apps, and uploading new files when another app passes in a chemical data file.

If you have the latest version of MolSync and MMDS, you can take advantage of the fact that the two apps now explicitly recognise each other (as opposed to generically). What this means in practice is that datasheet files stored on your dropbox account can be linked to your device. The MMDS app stores all of its content locally on the filesystem of your device. There are lots of ways to share the data, but by default, the flash drive of your iThing is where the action is. MolSync deals with files that are stored remotely on a cloud-hosted repository (for now, that’s Dropbox).

Should you happen to have both apps installed, MMDS will allow you to select a datasheet and link it to MolSync. It does this by adding some meta-data to the datasheet, then sends it off to MolSync, and instructs it to initiate the upload process. You can then select a destination folder, and the datasheet will be uploaded. From that point on, MMDS knows that the datasheet is associated with a certain repository/folder/filename. You can modify the datasheet, then tell MMDS to send the updated version to MolSync, which will compare the new datasheet to that which is currently stored on the remote filesystem, and offer various options such as replace, backup, rename and cancel – and, of course, preview the new and old content to see what’s changed.

This process is described in a lot more detail in the introductory article, and there is also a YouTube clip demonstrating how this is done.

The linking process is two-way: you can use MolSync to send datasheets to MMDS as well, which means that other methods can be used to modify the file stored on dropbox, e.g. using the web client to download the file, modify it, upload the replacement, then instruct MolSync to ensure that the version used by MMDS is uptodate.

This upgrade is a major milestone for the app ecosystem being put together by Molecular Materials Informatics. Seemless integration with cloud-hosted file repositories is an important step toward making mobile devices an effective way of managing chemical data – because chances are, you don’t do 100% of your work on a single mobile device, so it is crucial that you be able to access your data from any terminal, whatever shape or form that may take.

Expect more news soon regarding collaboration features and tools for making chemical publicly available.

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