Signals Blog

Cross-Platform Mobile Apps in Chemistry: Structure Drawing on iPad with ChemWriter

The creation of the tablet computer market by Apple has led many to consider the role that this new platform might play in scientific software. But the tablet market, once entirely owned by Apple, is now showing increasing signs of competition from devices running Android and Windows operating systems.

Cross-Platform Mobile Apps

Although offering choices for buyers, increasing competition among device makers presents a dilemma for service and product providers. Which platform will your customers want to run? Which platform will be on top in three years? Five years?

HTML5 and the remarkable array of new Web technologies around it offer a solution that works both today and tomorrow.

ChemWriter and iPad

ChemWriter is the chemical structure editor built entirely with standard Web browser technologies. It's written in 100% JavaScript. It runs without browser plugins of any kind. As a result, ChemWriter runs on all major browsers ranging from Internet Explorer 6 all the way up to the most recent tablet device browsers.

Recently, we made some changes that enable ChemWriter to work with the iPad's well-known touch gestures.

Being pure JavaScript, ChemWriter has always had the ability to run on iPad. But until now, we haven't implemented the Safari WebKit event handlers to enable ChemWriter to listen to iPad touch events.

ChemWriter 2.6.8 eliminates these restrictions. Atoms and bonds can both be created using comfortable touch gestures. Atoms can be lassoed and moved by touching and dragging. Both rings and bonds can be rotated before final placement by touch-dragging.

More to Come

These changes are the first iteration in a series of improvements designed to optimize ChemWriter as a structure drawing tool for mobile devices. Future releases will continue to improve the touch interface by adding support for pinch-to-zoom, by improving the touch responsiveness of buttons, and by optimizing touch gesture support on Android tablets.

Increasing competition in the tablet device market means tough choices for providers of scientific mobile applications. Should you decide that HTML5 offers the best way forward for projects needing chemical structure input or display, ChemWriter offers an unmatched solution.