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   ISIS/base introduction

The Silicon Graphics Teaching Laboratory
has been replaced by the
Chemical Information Laboratory
and this information is for historical interest only

ISIS/Base Introduction

ISIS/Base is an hierarchical chemical database somewhat similar to FileMaker Pro. Unlike FileMaker Pro, ISIS/Base was designed with chemists in mind. The program is linked to ISIS/Draw, so structures can easily be added to the database. ISIS/Base will automatically calculate molecular formulae and molecular weights from an ISIS/Draw structure. In addition, ISIS/Base can search through a database for substructures drawn by ISIS/Draw.

  • Indigo only Start ISIS/Base by typing isisbase. The first time you run the program in any directory, it will copy a configuration file into that directory.

  • Help

    The program includes a comprehensive help system. The Table of Contents page (ToC) is a good place to begin. The Quick Reference section of the table of contents page is particularly helpful.

  • Databases
    Several example databases are available. On a Macintosh or a PC look for a folder or directory called Sample, and open the files localmx or localrx.

  • Browsing through a database
    ISIS/Base usually starts in Query mode. Choose Retrieve All from the Search menu to bring the whole database into view, then click on Browse to look through it. Clicking on the arrows will move you through the database. Clicking on the # sign will let you go to a particular numbered entry.

  • Forms
    When browsing the database, you have a choice of several different forms. These are windows to the database, which present the information that interests you, and hides the rest.


    To change from one form to another, go to the Database menu, and select Change Form. You will be given a list of the forms that are available, and you can select one by clicking on it.

  • Structures
    Some forms will show pictures of molecules. Double clicking on such a picture will start ISIS/Draw running, and you will be able to examine the structure (and rotate it in 3D, if it has three-dimensional data available). The program automatically calculated molecular formulae and molecular weight from the picture of the molecule.

  • Searching through the database
    To search for a particular entry or series of entries in the database, use the Query mode. In this mode the Search menu has a Query Builder item, that allows you to search for any word or part of a word in any of the fields of the current form. You can also draw structures or substructures with ISIS/Draw, and search for these.

    To search for a word in any field, enter the Query mode, click in the area you want to search, and type = "Buckminsterfullerene". The choose By Form from the Search menu. This will search the database for all records with the name Buckminsterfullerene. (Capital letters are not considered.)

    You may not know exactly what you are searching for. If this is the case, use the like command. Type like "%minster%", then search by form. The '%' character is a wildcard, which will match anything, so you may find Buckminsterfullerene, York Minster, Beverly Minster, and anything else in the database containing this sequence of letters.

    Many other options are available. Using the Query Builder (in the Search menu should help.

  • Updating the database
    The Update mode allows you to edit data make new records.

  • Designing forms The Layout mode allows you to edit forms, and to design new forms, more suitable for your particular needs.

  • Laboratory Chemicals
    There is a database of thousands of the chemicals in use in the laboratory, with some of their safety data. A template for this database is available on the Silicon Graphics workstations: /usr/local/mdl/LabChemTemplate.db
    Type isisbase /usr/local/mdl/LabChemTemplate.db to see this.

    This is a picture of the database running on an Indigo.




© Goodman Group, 2005-2017; privacy; last updated December 7, 2017

department of chemistry University of Cambridge