Browser Spec: It is recommended that you use a modern browser for these pages, since they use a lot of the most recent features of HTML.
3D Image Formats: Some of these pages contain 'hyperactive' 3D images in formats such as pdb (protein database) or MDL molfiles (.mol). You can rotate and manipulate these files in real time if you have the correct set-up, and this depends upon the format of the page. There are 5 page formats currently used, H, C, J, JM and V (see below).
HTML-only pages (H): These pages are written in basic HTML, and no add-ons or plug-ins are required to view the page. Any 3D structures will be available as hyperlinks to the appropriate files (e.g. a pdb or mol file). To view these files you will need a 3D viewer program such as Rasmol. You then have two options:
chemical/x-pdband filename suffix
.pdband associate this with Rasmol. If you have configured correctly, then clicking on the pdb links on the page should activate your viewer with the molecule in its window. Similar statements would be needed for other MIME types, such as x-mol, etc.
As well as Rasmol, other helper files that can be used are MacMolecule2/PCMolecule2 and WebLab Viewer.
Chemscape Chime (C): This is a system which works using a plug-in for Netscape or MSIE called CHIME. It allows 3D molecular structures to be represented on the page without the user having to have an external helper program. CHIME can be obtained from the MDLI site in the States, or the mirror in the UK.
An alternative plug-in is Scarlet Line Molecular Viewer, which can view Chime pages.
ChemSymphony (Java applets) (J): This is an older system which allows rotating molecules to be displayed and manipulated using Java. The best place for info about is here. Some of the MOTMs may have this as an optional format. To view these MOTMs all you require is a Java-compatible browser, such as the recent versions of Netscape or MSIE. Note: there may be some problems if you use older versions of Netscape and some of the applets may not work properly. Also it may take a minute or so for the applet to download and begin running - so be patient...
VRML (V): Virtual Reality Markup Language allows the user to 'fly' around and through the object they are viewing, e.g. a building or, in this case, a molecule. To view these files you'll need a VRML browser, or a plug-in for Netscape or MSIE, such as Cortona.
Note for authors: VRML files can be created very simply using Frank Oellien's web page at the University of Erlangen. This web page allows you to specify a molecular structure either by SMILES string, or by simply using the existing 3D files (.xyz, .pdb, .mol, etc), and it will return the VRML (.wrl) file to you.
JMol (JM): JMol is another Java applet that doesn't require any plug-ins. It is relatively new (late 2003) but some of the newer MOTM pages may use it.
Other helper files - a list of other useful Chemistry plug-ins is held at Liverpool University.
RSS - the latest MOTMs are broadcast via an RSS newsfeed. If you have an RSS viewer (such as My Yahoo, or Bottomfeeder, then you can simply point them to this URL (http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/rss.xml) to get each month's MOTM's updated in your viewer automatically.
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