Commentary on the article:

"GlaxoWellcome and MDL become entangled in the Web"

by John Hodgson, Nature Biotechnology 14:690, June 1996.

In March, 1996, MDL made a sales presentation to Glaxo Wellcome's major US research site in North Carolina. The presentation included Chemscape Chime, which was derived in part from the source code of RasMol, released as freeware by Roger Sayle of GlaxoWellcome. This drew the attention of GlaxoWellcome executives to RasMol, previously a low visibility project at GlaxoWellcome.

Clarification of errors in the above article

As you can now learn from MDL Information Systems' website, this article is erroneous in stating that Chime is "90% RasMol, 10% MDL", and in estimating that MDL's contribution was "2-4 person-months" or the addition of "just 1,000 lines or so of code to the 30,000-line RasMol program". The facts (verified by MDL staff) are that Chime (as of version 0.8, concurrent with this article) was less than 20% derivitive of RasMol source code (<16,000 lines, and that extensively reorganized, optimized, converted from C to C++, and made re-entrant), and more than 80% original with MDL (version 0.9a >68,000 lines; >80,000 lines prior to version 1.0), and that MDL's investment has exceeded several person-years of programming time.

What may be deceptive to the casual user is that much of Chime's menu interface and appearance is very similar to that of RasMol. Clearly, Chime's user interface and representations are strongly influenced by and derivative of those in Sayle's RasMol, which is acknowledged. However, the plug-in functionality of Chime required an extensive infrastructure not present in RasMol. Also, Chime contains features not found in RasMol, such as 2D representations, animations of XYZ data files, hypertext button-controlled scripting, and the ability to display multiple separate structures simultaneously (re-entrant code).

Editorial comment by Eric Martz

In my opinion, the tone of this article is unfortunate in dwelling upon the hostility, if any, between the two corporations. One wishes that Nature Biotechnology could rise above this type of journalism. More newsworthy and important is the fact that each corporation has made a laudable contribution to the research community, and continues to do so. The August, 1996 press releases from MDL Inc. (see "What's New") announce that Chime version 1.0 will be free to all users, and that GlaxoWellcome and MDLI are collaborating on RasMol as well as Chime.