It’s soooo great to see the Chemistry addin for Word (previously known as “Chem4Word”) on Codeplex as an open source project. Congratulations to all the folks over at External Research and to Alex Wade in particular for driving this wonderful project and making it what it is today.
Few years ago, Tony Hey and I started brainstorming about various plugins for Microsoft Office that could help researchers/scientists. We started discussions with Prof. Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge, about one such plugin for Chemistry.* The Unilever Center for Molecular Science Informatics team had some great ideas about how to semantically describe and store the parts in a document that related to chemistry.
We started by talking with the Office team (very interesting discussions… ask me over a beer :-). It was at the time when Lee Dirks joined the team and started overseeing the efforts. I met Peter during WWW2007 (I believe) and started shaping up the project. Then Alex Wade joined the team and took over as the Research Program Manager and really made the difference. Alex lead the project and made it what it is today. It’s been an absolutely pleasure seeing him execute. Joe Townsend and Jim Downing from Cambridge did an amazing job from the Cambridge side.
In addition to helping with the project getting started, I also wrote the original design for how the Chemistry Markup Language would be stored inside a Word file, how the chemistry zones would be described inside an OpenXML document, the way WPF would be used inside Word, worked on the beginnings of the Ribbon, etc.
Well done to everyone involved. This is a great project, which has many inside and outside Microsoft excited. And it’s open sourced too. How cool is that? The potential impact of this project is huge. I know that the number of downloads in just the first few days has been incredible, beyond what the team had even imagined. Chemistry authoring won’t be the same.
* Other plugins of which you might have heard are the Creative Commons, Ontology plugin, GenePattern, etc.