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No one is infallible – not even the experts!

March 23, 2020
by Sherry Myles,

A yearly subscription for a software package is not uncommon in today’s high-tech world. You purchase a software program, install it and, for the most part, forget about it until prompted that your subscription is about to renew or expire. If you have a software package with maintenance, or that allows regular updates, you will receive notifications that these software updates are available for you to download and install. But do you always do them immediately?

It’s a busy world, and we don’t always have time to stop and tend to these seemingly minor issues, when it is easier and faster to get our work accomplished using the installed program as is.

But what might you be missing?


Recently we had a conversation with a customer where we discovered that a skipped update highlighted an important improvement in the software that they were missing. For over 15 years, the editorial team behind both Helvetica Chimica Acta and Chemistry & Biodiversity have been using ACD/Name on a daily basis to verify the nomenclature provided in author submissions. They are in the habit of updating their software annually on their renewal date, without always installing each major/minor update when it is released. This practice is fine for most of their daily tasks, but for our Name software, major updates include up to date naming conventions in accordance with IUPAC nomenclature rules, which typically results in new names for certain classes of compounds.

When we submitted an advert for their 2019 journal, Richard J. Smith at Helvetica stayed true to his claim of checking every submission and ran ours through his normal validation process using Name. As the creators of the software, we had used Name in producing the ad, so you can imagine our surprise when Richard notified us that the name was incorrect!

I immediately involved our own expert, Andrey Yerin, who I had been consulting with on the concept for our advertisement. Andrey is the project leader for our nomenclature products and has been working in the field for over 25 years. He recognized the “problem” immediately. Our newest version had been released a few months prior, but the fine folks at Helvetica Chimica Acta had not yet updated to this version. One of the updated features was a significant improvement in the recognition and definition of stereoconfiguration; including steroids and other natural parent compounds now being named in accordance with IUPAC recommendations. This caused an entirely new name to be produced for the structure.

Name blog 2020

Correct Name
sodium (24R)-29-{[2-O-(2,4-di-O-methyl-β-D-xylopyranosyl)-β-D-xylopyranosyl]oxy}-3β,4β,8,15β,16β-pentahydroxy-5α-stigmastan-6α-yl sulfate

Old Name
sodium (3β,4β,5α,6α,15β,16β,24R)-29-{[2-O-(2,4-di-O-methyl-β-D-xylopyranosyl)-β-D-xylopyranosyl]oxy}-3,4,8,15,16-pentahydroxystigmastan-6-yl sulfate

As Andrey explained to me, the new citation of alpha/beta stereocenters together with the natural parent name follows the current IUPAC recommendations. The previous citation used the CAS method of citation for alpha/beta centers, with R/S in brackets.

The entire experience taught me two things—one, that our Technical Support team is certainly correct in extolling the benefits of having active maintenance on your software program, and ensuring you stay up-to-date with the latest releases; and two, the importance of always checking your own work


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