Thursday, March 30, 2017

Product review: ChemDraw Professional 16

Courtesy of ChemDraw 16
Friend of the blog Philip Skinner (who works for PerkinElmer Informatics) asked me to review
ChemDraw Professional 16, which I was very happy to do. As someone whose employer doesn't always purchase ChemDraw, it's really great to work with a product that has classic functionality and is well known to us all. Who among us hasn’t stayed up into the middle of the night during graduate school, carefully drawing structures, wrestling with bond angles and getting the bond thicknesses just right in order to produce a really beautiful image?

It’s still a great product that’s simple to use. I don’t use chemical drawing programs routinely (it’s an odd aspect of my work, and also an aspect of using paper notebooks), but sitting down and drawing out a number of reaction schemes was just as simple as I remember. It was just like riding a bicycle. I hadn’t had a chance to play with ChemDraw’s very impressive set of templates, the results of my doodling are to the right.

There are a number of new features with ChemDraw 16. I played around a bit with the retrosynthesis tool, which I found to be an interesting idea, but not quite fully fleshed out. Maybe in future versions, it would provide more details or suggestions of possible reactions than just simply suggesting two starting material molecules. It’s a great idea, though, and one that I think needs to be expanded in the future (maybe in conjunction with links to literature searching?)

There’s a new ChemDraw Cloud version, which I’ve used and found to be perfectly convenient. This seems designed for the constant chemist, someone who was working on something on their desktop at work, doesn’t have ChemDraw at home, but wanted to sketch something that that they thought of on their way home. The features are pretty much the same, although the templates and the drawing tools are attenuated (for example, there are no curly arrows in the arrow boxes.) I presume that ultimately, there will be a tie-in to the e-notebook functionality, if there isn't already.

As always, price is a challenge with ChemDraw. It’s a serious product, and commands a serious product’s price: well north of $2000 is some real money. But it’s very likely worth the investment for committed chemistry professionals. Interested in a free trial for ChemDraw 16? Click here:


  1. "...paper notebooks". I still use paper notebooks, too, having worked at small companies for most of my career, but thought I was a dinosaur (or dodo). How many people still use paper notebooks?

  2. currently using chemdraw 16.0 on a laptop with 4k resolution and it runs very slow and the toolbar is tiny. there's no way to fix it either it seems.

  3. Thanks for the review CJ.

    wrt Curly arrows - good call. We have our reaction mechanism arrows enabled in the underlying editor but not in ChemDraw Cloud itself. I'll look into when we can add them"

    wrt the notebooks, eg use the same editor in our new web based ELN, Signals Notebook. Anyone who gets ChemOffice rather than ChemDraw gets access to a personal version. So - Anon 2:26 PM - want to try moving off of paper?

    wrt the high res monitors - we are looking into how best to address the various types of monitors and form factors that are routinely used. The speed issue seems to be related to certain graphics cards and we haven't worked out the underlying cause yet but are still investigating.

  4. Yes, please fix the high-res monitor issue! It's a nightmare to work like that...

  5. One indispensable feature of the new Chemdraw 16 is the "restore previous session" option after a computer crash, which my laptop is liable to do when I am working on a series of schemes.

  6. chemdraw is really s good drawing tool but one of the reason I want to make a drawing software by myself (it is not possible because I am not a programmer.) As stated above, When I move menu bars, it is very slow. Second, My eye is not good. So I have to expand structures to change bonds and atoms but after zooming it, The area that Mouse cursor should be located on the atom is very tiny .. it means not sensitive.. I think It can be solved by using low resolution monitors.. but high resolution monitors are common. In addition, predicted physical properties (I think few student would use the functions) is really erroneous. However, chemdraw have one advantage that is shortcuts. It is really good to draw many chemicals rapidly


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20