Yoshihiro Ishihara, Ana Montero and Phil S Baran

2013 | £29.99

Available for iOS


The portable chemist’s consultant from Phil Baran’s laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute in California challenges the concept of a ‘textbook’ by providing a progressive, web integrated, multimedia and user-friendly textbook application. This text, which will be continuously updated (at no additional cost), will become an extensive resource for heterocyclic chemistry, and acts as a problem based guide for synthetic organic chemistry.

The application is in two parts: the first provides an extensive and contemporary guide to the substitution and synthesis of aromatic azacyles, with each section logically arranged and summarised with a reterosynthetic starburst and ‘report cards’ evaluating the methods discussed. The second part is a trouble-shooting guide to synthetic transformations in the form of a question, for example: ‘How do I hydrate a nitrile to make a primary amide?’, with an answer containing a link to the literature. In addition, thorough guides for common transformations are included and expansion of this content is a priority for future versions, along with additional heterocycle chapters.

The chemical structure and reaction depiction is reassuringly familiar and perfectly clear. The ability to make schemes full screen, the integrated text, Wikipedia links and web searches, and the extensive reference list hyperlinked to the main body of the text make using this application enjoyable and efficient. 

The video extracts from Baran’s lecture courses are occasionally superfluous, though typically provide a stimulating change in information presentation, with the content particularly memorable as a result. On-screen pop ups explaining acronyms and giving structures from chemical names would be a nice addition.

As this text continues to grow in content, it will become an increasingly valuable tool for students and synthetic chemists. The application is exceedingly good value for just under 600 pages at the time of this review, but as this is a dynamic and expanding reference guide, it is a genuine bargain. This is the future of scientific textbooks.

The portable chemists’s consultant is available from iTunes