Advanced Chemistry Development's ACD/ChemSketch Freeware bundle is the sort of easy-to-use cutting-edge toolkit that chemist Isaac Asimov predicted years ago, only it's not science fiction but real software you can download today. ACD/ChemSketch is an easy-to-use chemical modeling and rendering program with a versatile 3D viewer that lets you specify everything from shapes and colors to Initial Internuclear Distance (in Angstroms). You can drag and rotate 3D models, zoom in and out, record frames, and manipulate the view in many ways. ChemBasic, a chemistry-oriented programming tool, is included.
ChemSketch's layout bears a strong resemblance to other drawing and modeling tools, CADware, and photo editors, although the sidebar's list of common chemical elements and symbols indicates the program's chemistry focus. The app opens on the 2D sketch page, which is extremely easy to use: Select an element or other symbol in the sidebar, click the main view, and drag a line to the next chemical bond. Customizable toolbars, packed with symbols and presets, make it possible to build up detailed structures quickly. We could create and manage templates, show or hide attributes such as Aromaticity, generate names, stereo descriptors, and structures, and much more. At the bottom of the window, tabs let us copy our model to the 3D viewer (and vice versa) for a more detailed view. We could search eMolecules, ChemSpider, and other services from inside ChemSketch or from the app, using our usual browser, too.
ACD/ChemSketch is as easy to use as a child's sketch program yet sophisticated enough for the lab. It wasn't so long ago that the modeling and rendering capabilities it offers were unavailable to scientists, let alone any student or amateur. Professionals and students, alike, should try it.