by Peter Galli on February 01, 2011 09:40am

Today, Microsoft Research, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge's Unilever Centre for Molecular Science Informatics and the Outercurve Foundation, jointly announced the free and broad availability of the Chemistry Add-in for Microsoft Word v1 as well as the platform's transition to the Foundation.

The Chemistry Add-in for Word, which was released as a beta last year, makes it easier to insert and modify chemical information, such as labels, formulas, and 2-D depictions, within Microsoft Office Word. It also enables the creation of inline "chemical zones," the rendering of print-ready visual depictions of chemical structures, and the ability to store and expose chemical information in a semantically rich manner.

By using Chemical Markup Language (CML) - a chemistry-specific XML - the Chemistry Add-in for Word makes it possible not only to author chemical content in Word 2007 and 2010, but also to include the data behind those structures. The Chemistry Add-in and CML help make chemistry documents open, readable, and easily accessible to humans as well as other technologies. The Chemistry Add-in supports publishing and data-mining scenarios for authors, readers, publishers, and others throughout the chemical information community.

Microsoft's collaboration with the Outercurve Foundation shows its continued commitment to interoperability and Microsoft's Openness Initiative, and now makes the tool widely available for users across various disciplines to use, build upon, and share their research. 

As Paula Hunter, Outercurve Foundation's Executive Director, notes: "The Chemistry Add-In for Word shows the power of collaborative development that exists in the open source community. The assignment of Chemistry Add-In for Word to the Outercurve Foundation will enable researchers and scientists to benefit from a tool that will speed creation and sharing of documents that include chemical information. We are pleased to work with Microsoft Research and the University of Cambridge to continue to foster improvements in the development of this tool."

For his part, Alex Wade, the director of scholarly communication at Microsoft External Research, says the Chemistry Add-In for Word helps the scientific and academic research community simplify the authoring and semantic annotation of chemical information. "We are delighted to collaborate on the tool development with the University of Cambridge and pleased to assign the project to the Outercurve Foundation in an effort to advance scholarly communications and pave the way for scientific discovery and innovation," he says.

The platform is being made available as a free download on Outercurve's Research Accelerators Gallery, a collection of open source projects that benefit the research and science communities, in an effort to facilitate the authoring of chemical information in Microsoft Word, specifically the inclusion of chemical structures. 

You can read more about all this on the Microsoft External Research Team Blog and on the project page here.