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A Closer Look at the Most Basic Software Requirement for Scientists | ACD/ChemSketch

November 9, 2016
By Sanji Bhal, Director of Marketing & Communications, ACD/Labs

We still find it a thrill when we bump into someone who says “ACD/Labs…are you the ones who make ChemSketch?”, and they then go on to regale us with a story about when/where they were using the software. As one of the most basic software requirements for scientists—a tool that helps them document and communicate their science in chemical structures—ACD/ChemSketch is often one of the first pieces of software they will use in their career, which means there is often nostalgia attached to its use. Just last week Daria (President, ACD/Labs) sent me an email retelling a story of a gentleman she met at an innovation in life sciences meeting in our ‘hometown’ of Toronto. He recalled using ChemSketch while working at a small biotech, ‘it was used by our whole team and was very helpful’ he said. With all the complex solutions we build to address customers’ productivity and efficiency challenges, it’s easy to forget about the small but essential tools that helped get us where we are today.

ChemSketch allows you to draw almost any chemical structure including organics, organometallics, polymers, sugars, peptides, and Markush structures. The name generator (for molecules of up to 50 atoms and 3 ring structures) is extremely useful for those working with small molecules and I always find it interesting the amount of attention the built-in Dictionary gets. Very rarely does anyone approach us for that functionality specifically, but being able to search for structures from a myriad of names (commercial, popular, and IUPAC, etc.) or vice versa, is a real favorite with many of our users.

To support teaching we have made a freeware version available for academia (and personal use—I will confess to handing it over to my 3 year old several years ago to doodle with).  While it doesn’t include all the tools and features available within the commercial version, it does incorporate the essential capability that enables researchers to draw structures, calculate molecular descriptors, and name small molecules. There have been >1.6 million downloads to date and we’re still counting.

Several months ago we announced the integration of ChemSketch in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Interactive Chemical Safety for Sustainability (iCSS) Chemistry Dashboard. As a publically accessible web application that supports scientists’ research, ChemSketch now offers scientists using the Chemistry Dashboard the ability to search for structure-based chemistry information on over 700,000 chemicals. By providing faster and easier access to this information, environmental scientists, computational toxicologists, and other researchers can identify the potential health effects of chemicals, access structures and toxicity data, and so on. We’re proud to partner with the EPA and assist scientists in their research that will in turn provide safer environments for our community.

If you’d like to learn more about our collaboration with the EPA, check out the press release: Additionally, add the EPA iCSS search functionality to your ChemSketch installation here.

If you want to test ChemSketch for yourself you can also download a free trial from

Pick up your mouse and get drawing!


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