Organic Chemistry Portal

Buckten, March, 24th, 2022

20 years Organic Chemistry Portal

Dear Visitors,

I hope you still enjoy using this project. For 20 years we have been trying to inform you about current synthesis methods. Certainly less successful at the beginning - more as a spare time project. In any case, in the first year after it was founded in the summer of 2002, the site looked more like a list of links:

Surprisingly, the Property Explorer was already on board back then. Republication permission was granted, although the other content was still rather poor.

Well, there were a few abstracts and you could even use an advanced search. However, that was a simple "Perl" script, that just searched within all pages one after another. In the worst case, that took 14 seconds. That script was two years later replaced by a fast database-powered search solution that is still running and that delivers search results in 0.2 seconds... Although the amount of content is 10 or even 20 fold higher.

So I started to promote that limited offer and was suprisingly joined by Prof. Douglass F. Taber, who wanted to contribute Highlight columns. So for the first time, we really presented interesting content and well also a continously updated selection of abstracts at the frontpage:

The abstracts are now availabe here, as otherwise the frontpage would be too crowded. In 2004, I also took the decision to translate a bigger part of the precedent German project: die Namensreaktionen. Whereas the German version was even bigger then, the English version grew much faster.

In 2004, the project was reviewed by Science and Angewandte Chemie, which caused a tremendous increase in visitors. Some months later, the shared hosting was not able to handle all requests anymore and the Swiss hosting provider "gently" suggested, that the project either runs at an own (expensive) server or that we search for a new hosting provider. So the boring Perl Script was replaced and the website moved from Basel to Zurich.

In addition, the webdesign was "frame-based" - including a lot of Javascript - that later caused problems with search engine spiders. We even had a lot of tables that needed to be removed (table-based web design - a sin of the early 2000's). It took three or four summer months to actually remove all that glutter and split content and webdesign. And well, in 2007, even professional logo designers were hired...

Would you have chosen the same logo? Anyway, in 2007, the website was totally redesigned, and most pages loaded within 5 seconds. So I was happy and just published content for decades...

In parallel, websites such as "Chemrefer" or "" appeared and were promoted everywhere and then disappeared. Chemrefer was bought by the RSC, they published a Wikipedia entry and a few years later, no person was interested in running that project anymore. Similar, the blogosphere appeared, many people wrote a few articles and some years later the blogosphere was also dead in favour of twitter, facebook or LinkedIn. I never had the idea to close the project or to sell it, although a few offers have been provided.

However, currently, I am not sure, whether the project will survive. Although we are more or less running the same web design from 2007 until now, we had major updates: such as designing a more "mobile friendly" version (well, you must rotate your device and maybe rescale the page, but it works).

And we switched from http to https and started in July 2018 to use AWS for accelerating the website. And besides the globally distributed 200 AWS POPs, where copies of the most accessed files are stored, hosting now runs at an own server in Berlin (own CPUs, SSD instead of HD)... I am sure, that 95% of the pages are loaded in less then 5 seconds for 95% of the visitors - including all advertisement. For a comparison of the page load times click here.

Although running the website got more and more expensive, I managed to publish a continous stream of Highlight columns and abstracts. However now, we face totally new problems, such as people who block ads (although ads load fast and and no third party ad network ads with malicious code or cookie-based annoying retargeting are inserted). And well: big publishers spam the google search engine with cheap, aggregated content. I don't know, whether we can really run the same amount of updates in the future too. Or whether it makes more sense to publish more exotic chemistry behind a paywall. It's partly in your hands: if you believe that we did a great job, please support the project with "Linkjuice" or recommendations. Please also check websites of Libraries and "career services": whether links could be added. And well, help us to promote the Job Market, because each published job finances additional abstracts. It's for sure annoying that we must compete with projects such as "FindAPostDoc" or "LinkedIn", that do not publish expensive own chemical content.

In any case, the most important authors would be willing to publish additional fresh content for at least 10 more years. However, without additional Linklove, recommendations and occasional donations, that task becomes more and more difficult.

Yours sincerely

Reto Mueller