Macs in Chemistry

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A Review of StarVue

StarVue is a free (requires registration) chemical structure viewer from Optibrium. The download and installation simply involves dragging the application onto the application folder. Then simply double-click to open the application.

StarVue supports the following data file types:

Import is very quick, I opened a 2000 structure sdf file in under 10 seconds on my MacBook Pro, interestingly the 3D structures of the sdf file are automatically rendered as 2D structures in StarVue which certainly helps viewing the structures. All the data in the file is also imported into columns. The columns can be reordered by simply dragging the column header, and you can scroll through the columns using the scroll bars.


One nice feature is the ability to “Freeze” a column or row, If you select a column and choose Freeze when you scroll the column will always remain visible, this means that you can always see the chemical structures for example. Right-clicking on the column header reveals a drop down menu with a number of options, sorting on the data set I used for testing was very fast taking less than a second. Whilst it is [possible to insert (or delete) columns it is not possible to populate the new column with the result of a calculation based on data in other columns. You can also navigate the data sheet using the arrow keys.


You use the “Select Data View” dialog box to choose which columns to display, and you can you can change the order by selecting and using the arrow buttons to move them up or down (you can also drag and drop to change the order).


You can search the all the data fields using the Find dialog, but you can limit the search by first selecting the column you want to search. However it seems you can’t use “greater or less than” to search or search for ranges.


StarVue can be used to view multiple data sets and they can be maximised or minimised within the data window, be default only the latest dataset is displayed but by clicking on the green button you can change the display to see all datasets. Data sets can be arranged by clicking on the View menu and selecting Cascade or Tile, one of these might actually better as the default for importing multiple datasets. The other option is a Coverflow style view, which is an easy way to browse though structures.


The current data set can be merged with another open data set using the Merge Data Set dialogue. Merging will create a new data set with columns from the both the current data set and those of a selected set.

StarVue seems to be a nice viewer for quickly looking chemical structures, it is particular useful for looking at multi-structure (and associated data) sdf or smiles file, as such it would be ideal for browsing through vendor files. In chatting to the developers it seems they have plans to add further features so watch this space.

Last Updated 28 February 2013.