Saturday, September 22, 2007

MestreNova versus iNMR

People keep asking me which program to buy for the Mac: iNMR or MestreNova? There are many other alternatives (NMRPipe, Jeol Delta, NMR Notebook, NUTS, VNMRJ plus, in the future, TopSpin and SpinWorks) for Mac OS X, but the first two products are so far ahead of competition that you must be eccentric or masochist to even consider something different. If I start speaking about the difference between iNMR and MNova, I can go on for a whole day, telling you the whole story and philosophy of both. Something fascinating for me but no other human being can stand a whole day listening to it. If I start writing, I could write a book, like Rodgers and Hart. Why should people read such a book when both programs can be downloaded and tested in less time? The truth why I can't write that book is that I am too much involved, it's so dangerous. If Mestrelab goes out of business, I go out of business as well. How much dependable am I for you? Don't get me wrong, both products are so nice and stable and offer such a wonderful customer support that there is no concern of going out of business. I simply wanted to demonstrate that I am the most biased source of information that you can find.
Last year I explained in detail that I didn't like the old Mestre-C. MestreNova is much more usable, most of the problems have been fixed but the philosophy remains the same and I'll never like it. The MestreNova document is not a spectrum, but a container. Even if you always populate it with a single spectrum, you are still facing the container concept. There are 5 omnipresent green handles to remind it and they are something I can hardly bear. The more I see them, the more I hate them. They belong, however, to the second impression. The first impression arrives when you launch the two programs. One of them is 10 times faster than the other. Just to open the program; a whole order of magnitude. It's well known that Apple has always cared a lot about first impressions. You can see it from their packages. They say: "if the first impression is negative, there will be no second impression". What's fundamental for Apple can be less important for Mac users, but is still worth mentioning.
If you have also read the rest of the blog, you have found other comparisons. I have written enough. Let's other people speak. They did! You can find a lot of engaging reviews here:
They are all real people, sometimes even famous scientists, sometimes from prestigious research centers. If you are at least a mediocre detective, you can retrieve their email addresses. The other page to read is:
They don't come, however, to directly compare the two products on those web pages. I have other sources. Paul Brémond, a French PhD student, wrote in his email:
"iNMR is so simply intuitive to use! I would like to have a Chemdraw so easy for example! I have tested MestreNova (Windows Version) and it seems to be a renewed MestreC and that's all...".
This is what they say, but what are they doing? Where do they put their money? The case of the Scripps Institute of Florida is an instructive... swinging mystery. Last year they bought a package of 20 licenses of iNMR version 0 (it used to be extremely affordable; today is available for free; next year probably not). Subsequently they purchased a site license of MestreNova. Final decision? Not at all! This week they ordered 3 copies of iNMR reader. I ignore what's behind each single decision. I know the reported facts and nothing else.
A similar case is more documented and I also received the permission of reporting it. Troy Ryba recently moved from the same Scripps institute to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he found another site license of MestreNova. He asked me the terrible question: "How does iNMR (the full version) and MestrecNova differ?" which, in the case of somebody already owning a fresh license of MestreNova, sounded like an SOS call. I offered him both a tip on how to make a better use of MNova and a complimentary copy of iNMR, for him to perform the comparison directly. He kindly refused the gift and ordered a paid copy of iNMR instead. You can really say he digs iNMR! Troy wrote:
"At any point if you would like an endorsement/testimony for simplicity and ease of use of iNMR, I would be happy to provide one."
Dear Troy, an act like yours is worth one million words! That "point" has come a few lines ago.
This blog is open for discussion...


At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although chemistry is my profession, I have been using computers for a decent amount of time (DOS 3, freebsd 2, etc). The first NMR software I used was iNMR. It was nice for a first impression; however, after figuring out the majority of the features within a very short time span, I found it lacking in robustness. It also impared my efficiency which I am very picky about. I switched over to MNova and have been happy ever since. I've since noticed that generally individuals with good computer skills prefer "lots of buttons and configuration options" (MNova) whereas those with limited computer experience prefer simplicity (iNMR). Essentially, I would most likely recommend either software package to individuals based on their computer experience.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger old swan said...

While it's clear that MNova contains (too many) more buttons, I can't agree on the "robustness". Both programs have good records of stability. Please demonstrate your opinion with facts.
From your post it seems that MNova offers more power because it offers more buttons. Examining the lists of features (iNMR vs. the basic MNova) they do not match, but apparently is iNMR the richest one, at this writing moment. Examples of iNMR-exclusive features: Dynamic NMR, Spotlight support (Spectroscopic Database), Reference Deconvolution, generation of pictures, higher number of formats that are imported, Overlay Manager, Batch Processing, 2D ChessBoard-like plot, Synchronization between 2 Windows, more options in the Line-Fitting module, 3D NMR, Apple Scripts, etc... I agree that there is no clear winner in the above categories (robustness and features), while iNMR is unarguably faster and better integrated into the OS. I also prefer iNMR because spectra are more visible (more screen estate is dedicated to them) while I can't bear the "10 green handles 10" of MNova.
Did I mention that MNova does not run on Leopard?
I cannot accept your sentence: "those with limited experience prefer simplicity". The more experience I accumulate, the more I prefer simplicity. I feel to be more expert now that I am using the Mac than during the 80s (when I was using the DOS). If you really dislike simplicity, why don't you switch to Windows? I can't understand people that buy a Mac to run Windows-biased applications. Only to avoid viruses or to sport the Apple logo on the desk?

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found this post while searching with Google. It's more than 1 year old; nothing seems to have changed, however. I had compared the two products and I think there's no competition. Mestrenova is unfinished and flawed. I say unfinished because many important things are missing: simulation of spin systems, simulation of chemical exchange, peak deconvolution, 3-D NMR. iNMR not only contains all the above things, but also a Spotlight-based search module, a Chessboard-like plot mode, and some nice managers (like the Overlays manager and the J-manager). I know that Mestrenova contains a multiplet analyzer too, but it's limited to first-order multiplets, while the J manager of iNMR has a larger scope.
I say that Mestrenova is flawed because the drawing routines are uncomfortably slow, they are literally put to shame by iNMR.
The performance of Mestrenova is excellent on Windows, and the lack of simulation features is felt less (you can use Spinworks, gNMR or WinDNMR). On the Mac, instead, no alternative is available (to the best of my knowledge) to simulate a spin system. To tell the truth, I also prefer the iNMR look and feel (it's exactly what a long time Mac user would expect from a Mac app) which is a matter of tastes. There are enough technical issues, however, that everyybody should agree there's no competition. To manipulate NMR data on a Mac, iNMR is the only serious choice.

At 12:53 AM, Blogger pacifyer said...

I have only two things to say:
1) There was yet another good NMR program for MacOS X: "NMR Notebook". Unfortunately, they apparently disappeared, maybe because of low sales. I still have and use their last version (2.5).
2) iNMR has one big flaw: there is no way to use external 1D plots as projections in 2D spectra.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger old swan said...

Dear pacifyer,
you have ruined your own post. You had important news to share regarding the notebook program. Unfortunately you have added a huge lie. It has always been possible to add an external projection in iNMR:
and internal projections too:
Ever heard about Google?
I have another question for you. What does it mean that the makers of the notebook disappeared? They have revamped their web site, which still displays the street address and the phone number...

At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a (happy) MestreNova user. As the license was paid by my former boss I just have to decide now if I'm sticking with MestreNOva or go for iNMR (paying myself...) I noticed that some people are quite fan of iNMR, so: is there a possibility to export like a peak picking list (as in MestreNova)? And is iNMR really that simple to go?

At 10:35 PM, Blogger old swan said...

A good thing about iNMR is that you can download and use it without paying and they don't even ask for your email address. A click on the home page is enough to download a demo that never expires.
The answer to your first question is: yes, you can export the list of peaks with the command Edit>Copy>List of Peaks.
The answer to the second question is: download iNMR and try to repeat the tutorials you find on the web site.


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