When you see a picture of a drug molecule or a nanoscale computing element in a newspaper, you’re almost always looking at the result of an X-ray crystallographic study. CrystalMaker 5.0 produced these types of images superbly. And the latest version, CrystalMaker 6.0.2, is even better: it’s easier to use and thoroughly optimized for Mac OS X.
CrystalMaker not only presents the results of crystallographic studies but also lets you build crystal models from scratch or import tables of crystal data in any of a dozen standard formats. The output is beautiful, fully rendered, 3D-crystal images, which you can view with the included stereoscopic glasses as PDF files, JPEG images, or high-res PICT files. CrystalMaker 6.0 is a nearly complete reprogramming effort that takes real advantage of OS X. It abandons the event-processing model the Mac used before OS X, which seriously bogs down in the presence of multiple open windows. The new core of CrystalMaker is almost five times faster on redrawing tasks than version 5.0 (we used a 700MHz iMac G4).
CrystalMaker’s interface has been reconstructed, too. In the past, you had to go through a series of tedious dialog boxes to execute common tasks. Instead of dialog boxes for editing and display features, CrystalMaker 6.0 uses OS X sheets. You can have more than one sheet open at a time while you work, regardless of which one is active.
In addition to a spruced-up Graphics window that shows modelling results, CrystalMaker 6.0 offers a redesigned Output window that keeps track of status information, an Overview window that keeps a number of structures in various thumbnail representations on hand, and an Info window that catalogues the atom types in structures. Since editing is a primary function in fitting crystal structures to diffraction data, version 6.0 has adapted OS X’s Data Browser control to provide separate editing windows for bonds, elements, molecules, and crystals, and each window updates its content as you make changes in another window.
If you’re a crystallographer, it’s time to upgrade to CrystalMaker 6.0. If you’re a science instructor, it’s no exaggeration to say this program alone would justify buying a Mac to produce materials for chemistry or physics lessons. It handles all crystal-display tasks with grace, and it’s a bargain.