Sharing structures with SketchEl and

sketchel_molsyncThe latest version of SketchEl (1.60) has added a new feature: sharing of content via From either the molecule editor or the datasheet editor, the underlying content can be directly uploaded, making it openly accessible to the greater internet.

While SketchEl is not technically a product of Molecular Materials Informatics, the copyright is held by me, it’s made available via the Gnu Public License, and it gets a bit of maintenance from time to time. It is a conventional and fairly capable 2D structure drawing program that is written in pure Java, and runs on all the major platforms. It can even be used as an applet, though that doesn’t matter as much as it used to. It also allows editing of molecular spreadsheets (“datasheets”) that contain molecules and various scalar data. Over the years (since 2005) it has served as a test bed for a few ideas, like the SketchEl molecule file format, and I still use it regularly for editing structures and collections.

The newly added sharing feature offers to upload the current molecule or datasheet. Once the upload is complete, the result is available in the form of a URL, which can be opened in the browser, e.g.


This is the same workflow that is available via several mobile apps, like MMDS and MolPrime+, either for sharing directly as a web page, or as a prelude to tweeting out the data. Once you have the data uploaded to the site, the content is served up in viewable form, and can be downloaded in various cheminformatics and graphics formats. It can be shared by any sort of internet distribution means, and there are lots of clickable icons for bouncing it out via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.

Notice also that the page includes the molecular recognition glyph – that’s the black hexagon with the square dot pattern in the middle. The timing is no coincidence, because it means that as soon as the Living Molecules app gets through the appstore review process, the following workflow will be possible:

  1. Draw molecules and/or assemble them into a datasheet with textual content, properties, etc., using any desktop platform (Linux, Windows, Mac, whatever)
  2. Share the content on
  3. Export the molecular glyph and include the graphic on a poster
  4. Put up the poster at a conference, and anyone with an iThing can snap the glyph and access the underlying data

Of course, using many of the content creation apps the data can be created on a mobile device as well, but adding the feature to SketchEl now makes that a choice: create content on mobile or desktop, whichever is most convenient at the time. And it’s not just for making posters either, but that is one of the original use case proposals.

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