A new feature will be making its way to the Mobile Molecular DataSheet, and other apps, soon: tweeting out chemical data (molecules, reactions, datasheets) without having to login to a repository for storing the source data. All that’s required is authorisation of your Twitter account, as configured within iOS.
To see a preview of how it works, click on the image to the right, to watch a short screencast.
This is not the first foray by Molecular Materials Informatics into the twitterverse: the MolSync app can tweet out chemical data, too, but only when you have already uploaded the raw data to the /Public folder of your Dropbox account. The Open Drug Discovery Teams app makes heavy use of Twitter, but only emits tweets in order to modify content, rather than creating it.
The core technical issue for tweeting chemical data is that Twitter itself allows just 140 characters of data, but this space can include shortened links, so a tweet can redirect the reader to a valuable payload. But that content has to be stored someplace else – and you can’t store something on a mobile app and make it available to the world, hence the need for a service to provide this function. There are many services for storing certain types of data, such as pictures, but this is unhelpful for chemistry: while it’s great for someone to see a bitmapped rendition of a molecule, its true value is unlocked only if the source data, in a machine readable format, is available.
Hence the storage service needs to be able to manufacture a graphical representation, for the benefit of people reading the tweet with a standard client, and also able to make the core data available, so people can integrate it into their cheminformatics workflow. This problem is now solved by using a third party service – pastebin.com – and having it store the raw chemical data (i.e. the molecule/reaction/datasheet, as machine-readable text). This service generates a public link that is accessible from any connected dervice, and it is combined with the molsync.com data sharing service, which wraps the raw data, and produces a freshly rendered HTML5 page that displays the content. The chemical data content comes with calculated properties, and can be downloaded in a variety of formats, both cheminformatics and graphics.
To see it in action, try this link:
So back to mobile apps: MMDS now makes use of pastebin.com + molsync.com to host and serve up the data, so with the latest version you can tweet out anything you want, and the only logging in you have to do is with Twitter, which involves tapping the “Allow” button, as long as you have configured it within iOS.
The new version will be submitted to the AppStore soon, so it ought to be available in a week or two.