Marvin: beyond Java

news · 9 years ago
by Alex Allardyce

ChemAxon's Marvin Applets requires Java to be installed. At this time Java on Web Browsers is not being well supported which causes problems for end users. We have posted some notes on Security issues with Marvin Applet loading in Web Browsers and on Mac and I wanted to highlight what we have been doing on the development side to have a Marvin without users needing Java.

Marvin for Javascript

Marvin is the chemical sketcher/viewer for ChemAxon's technology. We launched the Java Applet and Beans in 1998 and later WebStart and .NET. Marvin is successful because it is continually developed, has good functionality and can be integrated most everywhere. It is important for us that, regardless of the technology, the interfaces and performance are consistent and rational.

We started a major refactoring of the Marvin core classes around 2007 so we could support new technologies like JavaScript, touch surfaces, etc, more easily. Our JavaScript (JS) development began in 2011 and we made a Marvin JS public 0.7 version available on this blog a couple of months ago. It is developed to be a lightweight native JavaScript structure editor/viewer and API that uses the server to run the heavy chemistry processing.

With the refactored Marvin classes we have able to develop Marvin JavaScript in a straightforward way which gives us consistent performance will all instances and a fast way to roll out existing features. We expect deliverables to change as users feedback with experience and needs but at the moment the roadmap looks like this:

Q4, 2012: 0.7 launched: Description and live Marvin JavaScript instance

March: 0.8 expected: Major new features: abbreviated groups (from pre-defined list), displaying enhanced stereo; SMILES (and CXN extended SMILES) import/export from server side

April: 0.9 expected: New feature areas: basic rendering/image generation, more query features, including; atom list/not list

May/June: 1.0 expected: New feature areas: basic touch support, more query features, more API.

I understand that already the functionality of the 0.7 release is suitable for many use cases and I expect that the 1.0 release will be a viable replacement/improvement for most current general chemistry uses of Marvin Applets for editing and viewing on Web pages.

Beyond version 1 we have been working with users and the industry to prioritize next features but with the refactored classes implementation of our existing chemistry is quite straightforward and should roll out relatively quickly.

Interested in your feedback on this here or comments on the roadmap over in the Marvin JS launch blog page.