Reviewed by Ulrich Jordis,
Vienna University of Technology, Austria
Ever since chemistry databases have become relevant for the workflow of chemists we have benefited from competition of various software systems to query these databases. Just remember how the graphic user interface (GUI) of DARC/Questel spurred Chemical Abstracts to program similar systems - before one had to use hundreds of codes to specify structures. Now we are experiencing another quantum leap in the usability of the CrossFire databases Beilstein, Gmelin and Patent Chemistry Database.
It is obvious that Reaxys, and especially its new GUI, has been programmed with the needs and expectations of chemists in mind. As a result, Reaxys can be used easily and readily with users rapidly being able to explore more sophisticated queries.
Weekly webinars offer the users a jump start using this innovative system. Options for the output of search results are plentiful and allow integration of the answers into local reference management systems, Word or Excel files or PDF - a great improvement from the rather clumsy output created by CrossFire Commander. Alternatively to the built-in Marvin Sketch structure editor one can use the CrossFire editor or Symyx Draw. The support of other editors such as ChemDraw is under development by their vendors.
Reaxys is 100 per cent web based (using Java for the structure editors) and the developers have learned from previous experience for example with CrossFire Web. The power-user would prefer to install an application with much reduced loading times; one can only hope that speed bottlenecks are solved in the future.
The synthesis planning feature is reminiscent of the reaction planner in Symyx Isentris. Reaxys’s display of chemical reactions is almost perfect in readability and gives a better overview of reaction sequences compared to SciFinder. Clearly with Reaxys the importance of the specialized CrossFire suite of databases as necessary addition to the comprehensive Chemical Abstracts databases is strengthened.
Query options include reactions, substances and properties, text, authors and more. Intuitively one can create even complicated reaction pathways called synthesis plans by asking for syntheses of intermediates. This will not only help research chemists find synthesis of known compounds or find precedence of analogous reactions; it also helps students to get an excellent overview of any areas they might be interested in.
In summary Reaxys clearly creates a renaissance for the use of data from the formerly known Beilstein and related databases. With these high quality, deeply indexed data in the background the Reaxys might replace the concept of Beilstein. As it also includes very important patent information drilled down to reaction procedure texts and prophetic compounds, the scientific community will become increasingly aware of the importance of patents, too.
For further information see Reaxys web site.