EGO, roundtrip and Linkback



There has been considerable discussion on the Cambridgesoft forums about a number of problems for users that have arisen with the upgrades to both the Mac OS X operating system and the latest version of ChemBioDraw. One of the major problems that is that when a structure is pasted into another application, for example a word processing application, the resulting embedded structure cannot be copied and pasted back into ChemBioDraw and edited.

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A liitle background, Apple pioneered interapplication communication and application scripting with an object-based messaging model that was far ahead of the corresponding Windows technology, and a third party developed a means to use AppleEvents to implement object embedding, called EGO. This allowed users of Microsoft Word version 5 for Macintosh to edit embedded ChemDraw drawings and create true compound documents. Unfortunately, Apple chose not to support this, and Microsoft rewrote Word 6 so that EGO could not be any longer supported by the third-party extension. As both Apple and Microsoft updated their applications and operating system the ability to retrieve the original chemical data in pictures pasted into documents has been lost. Specifically it was possible before Mac Vector Pict 2 was scrapped as the OS metadata and replaced by PDF.
More recently third-party solutions such as LinkBack have been implemented. LinkBack is an open source framework for Mac OS X that helps developers integrate content from other applications into their own. A user can paste content from any LinkBack-enabled application into another and reopen that content later for editing with just a double-click. Changes will automatically appear in the original document again when you save. However without Apple support this is unlikely to be widely adopted.

In talking to some of the developers they seem curious as to how important this sort of feature might be. The structures can always be saved in a chemical file format, opened and edited in an editor and repasted into Word/etc. Indeed speaking to some people it does seem that with the move to web-based documents some users were unaware of this sort of functionality, and they are more used to building links to files. However the ability to cut and paste data between applications is extremely useful, particularly when sharing documents with many users.
So the latest poll (bottom right of page) is intended to try and gauge how important round-trip editing is to Mac OS X users.

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