RasMol: Technical Introduction

This description is taken from the documentation which accompanies RasMol (file ANNOUNCE). It is written by Roger A. Sayle, Ph.D., the author of RasMol.

RasMol is a molecular graphics program intended for the visualisation of proteins, nucleic acids and small molecules. The program is aimed at display, teaching and generation of publication quality images. The program has been developed at the University of Edinburgh's Biocomputing Research Unit and the Biomolecular Structure Department at Glaxo Research and Development, Greenford, UK.

RasMol reads in molecular co-ordinate files in a number of formats and interactively displays the molecule on the screen in a variety of colour schemes and representations.

Currently supported input file formats include Brookhaven Protein Databank (PDB), Tripos' Alchemy and Sybyl Mol2 formats, Molecular Design Limited's (MDL) Mol file format, Minnesota Supercomputer Center's (MSC) XMol XYZ format and CHARMm format files. If connectivity information and/or secondary structure information is not contained in the file this is calculated automatically.

The loaded molecule may be shown as wireframe, cylinder (Dreiding) stick bonds, alpha-carbon trace, spacefilling (CPK) spheres, macromolecular ribbons (either smooth shaded solid ribbons or parallel strands), hydrogen bonding and dot surface. Atoms may also be labelled with arbitrary text strings.

Different parts of the molecule may be displayed and coloured independently of the rest of the molecule or shown in different representations simultaneously. The space filling spheres can even be shadowed. The displayed molecule may be rotated, translated, zoomed, z-clipped (slabbed) interactively using either the mouse, the scroll bars, the command line or an attached dials box.

RasMol can read a prepared list of commands from a `script' file (or via interprocess communication) to allow a given image or viewpoint to be restored quickly. RasMol can also create a script file containing the commands required to regenerate the current image.

Finally the rendered image may be written out in a variety of formats including both raster and vector PostScript, GIF, PPM, BMP, PICT, Sun rasterfile or as a MolScript input script or Kinemage.

RasMol will run on a wide range of architectures and systems including SGI, sun4, sun3, sun386i, DEC, HP and E&S workstations, IBM RS/6000, Cray, Sequent, DEC Alpha (OSF/1, OpenVMS and Windows NT), IBM PC (under Microsoft Windows, Windows NT, OS/2, Linux, BSD386 and *BSD), Apple Macintosh (System 7.0 or later), PowerMac and VAX VMS (under DEC Windows). UNIX and VMS versions require an 8bit, 24bit or 32bit X Windows frame buffer (X11R4 or later). The X Windows version of RasMol provides optional support for a hardware dials box and accelerated shared memory rendering (via the XInput and MIT-SHM extensions) if available.

[Note added by E. Martz: through user ports, it is also available for NEXTSTEP and Acorn Archimedes RISC OS.]

This page is maintained by emartz@microbio.umass.edu