SketchEl 2: now a public repository

sketchel2_snapAs was mentioned awhile back, the SketchEl 2 project is underway as a desktop app, based on web technology and delivered as an Electron package. The GitHub repository is now public, on account of there being enough functionality to be arguably useful. This is a very early release, so do be ready to give some useful feedback if you feel so inclined to try it out.

Most of the technology for SketchEl 2 comes from the WebMolKit library, which is also open source. The WebMolKit functionality is designed primarily to serve web pages and that are JavaScript heavy. Thanks to a relatively recent development, there is something called the Electron project, which essentially takes a stripped down version of Google’s Chrome browser and uses it to provide a wrapper shell around software that runs using web technology. With a few extensions to provide un-webby functionality (such as a menu bar, or direct access to the filesystem), it is possible to make some rather sophisticated applications target the web and the three main desktop operating systems (Win/Lin/Mac), all with the same codebase, which is somewhat of a holy grail.

As the name would suggest, SketchEl 2 is the successor to SketchEl, which is a Java-based open source project that I started working on a long time ago (and stopped doing any work on slightly less long ago). While the original application is still quite useful, it is showing its age, and it can no longer provide embedded web functionality, since the Java Applet concept has been taken out back and shot.

If having a powerful open source chemical sketcher available in either web or desktop form sounds like something you would like to see, then by all means try it out. The application itself, and the underlying library, will continue to mature with time, but if you make the effort to reach out and express some interest, this will likely speed things up!

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