Chemistry App Review: ChemDraw for iPad

I’ve had the opportunity to play around a bit in the app ChemDraw for iPad. ChemDraw definitely is known for being the gold standard of chemistry drawing software; all of my scientific publications and my Ph.D thesis were generated using ChemDraw.  Several great bloggers have already given reviews on this new product (see links below), and now I will throw in my two cents:

I approach this from the point of view of a chemistry instructor. I would like to use a mobile chemistry drawing software to prepare lecture notes/problem sets, solve problems in-class, or to encourage students to use it for studying, doing problem sets or preparing lab reports.  But for these goals, similar to other productivity apps for the iPad, ChemDraw for iPad falls significantly short of its full version counterpart.

In its current form, I can only see myself using this to roughly jot down some structures when I am on the go. I would then need to email myself the .cdxml file to format and edit on the full version of ChemDraw. With no dropbox/google docs/icloud syncing feature, I think many users will just stick to drawing manually in a notepad app like GoodNotes, then use the full version of ChemDraw at a later time.

As well, I would not strongly recommend this software to my students. At Vancouver Island University, we currently do not have a site-licence for the full version of ChemDraw, which would greatly reduce this apps usefulness for students.  Thus without the ability to copy or paste the structures they generate into some sort of word processing or notepad app, the ChemDraw app seems more like a 9.99$ novelty.  It does offer some neat features like assigning R or S, and E or Z, but does not include IUPAC naming and some other desirable features.

I think this software is a step in the right direction, but does not quite meet my requirements. However, I am told a major update will be available in a couple of weeks (mid-September 2013?) which may improve functionality. Please find below a list of pros and cons that I have compiled, and links to other reviews of this product.


– Fairly straightforward drawing of molecules

– Quick, easy cleanup of structures

– Rotation, or flipping molecules is clear and easy

– Most typical R- groups are listed for easy use

– It can assign R or S, and E or Z stereochemistry

– It can display chemical formula, molecular weight and elemental analysis

– Cost 9.99$ (much less than a full copy of ChemDraw!)


– No alternate style sheets/formatting of structures supported

– Only one arrow size is available… ridiculously large, only 5 arrow types available… does not include resonance arrows or equilibrium arrows!

– No ability to type text or reaction conditions

– No ability to paste directly into a word processing document or notepad application

– No align or distribute functions

– To share you must email to yourself as .cdxml file, or use Flick-to-Share (a filesharing program, previously unknown to me). No Dropbox, Google Docs, or icloud support

*Disclosure: I was given the app for free from PerkinElmer for evaluation purposes (Regular 9.99$ value)*

Other Chemdraw for the iPad Reviews in the blogosphere:

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