Beilstein Crossfire

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Beilstein Crossfire is a client-server system that provides campus users access to the Beilstein organic chemistry database, which contains structures and data for more than ten million carbon compounds and more than ten million organic reactions. It is searchable by chemical structure/substructure, property data, and identification information.

The client software used to access Beilstein is called Crossfire Commander. You may obtain Commander free of charge via the link below. Commander is also available on workstations in the Chemistry Library.

Use of Beilstein Crossfire outside the library is restricted to currently enrolled students and currently appointed faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin. Your computer must have a UT-Austin IP address.


MDL CrossFire Commander Software

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Documentation and Help


Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I access Crossfire?
The Crossfire client software, called Crossfire Commander, is installed on workstations in the Library. The client is also free to install on your computer, as long as you are connecting from a SIOC IP address.


Where can I get the software?
You can download the latest version via our download link .


I can't get to the download page with my ID.
Your ID may not have adequate permissions. Contact the Librarian for assistance.


What operating systems does it run on?
The latest version of Commander (7.1) is available for Windows XP and Vista only.


Is there a Mac version?
No. The only Mac option is to run the Windows client under Parallels Desktop for Mac or Mac's Boot Camp. Other Mac-Windows options


I have the software installed, but I can't get it to connect.
Initiate the login by clicking the Connect button. If this doesn't result in a live connection to the server, there's probably a configuration problem. Be sure that Group Name (Options menu), Login ID, and password are entered into the software configuration. Contact the Librarian if the problem persists.


Do I need my own password?
No, but you must configure the installation with the appropriate SIOC's group name, userid, and password, which are provided on the Crossfire information page. This information can then be saved in your software so that you don't have to re-enter it every time you log in. When you close the program, check the box that says "Automatically connect to the current server for the next session".


Can I access it from home?
No. The Commander client connection can't be proxied, so you can't use it via a third-party internet provider. You have to have a SIOC IP address.


Why won't it launch the Structure Editor?
Make sure that the default structure editor is set to "Crossfire Structure Editor" under the Options/Structure Editor menu. This will tell Commander to use its internal structure editor from then on. If you would prefer to use ISISDraw, you can download this program free from MDL/Symyx (registration required). You can also download Symyx Draw (formerly MDL Draw) at the Commander download site.


Does Commander link to full text of journals?
Version 7.1 offers a new feature where you enter a link resolver URL during initial set-up. This allows the Full Text button next to a citation in View Results to direct you to UT's in-house e-journal database, which will determine whether we have electronic access to the article in question. If we do, you can link right to it. If we don't, you'll get a link to the Library Catalog to do an ISSN search for the printed journal. These links don't always work perfectly, but they help. When prompted during installation, enter this URL:


What compounds does Beilstein cover?
Beilstein covers compounds of carbon with the following elements:
          Li  Be              B  C   N   O   F
          Na  Mg                 Si  P   S   Cl
          K   Ca                     As  Se  Br
          Rb  Sr                         Te  I
          Cs  Ba 
Excluded are organic compounds with other metallic elements; elemental and inorganic carbon, CO, CO2, carbonic acid, carbides (which are covered in Gmelin); peptides, and polymers.


What journals does Beilstein cover?
Beilstein currently excerpts 174 selected journals that contain research in organic, medicinal, and biological chemistry. A list of indexed journals is available from Beilstein. Beilstein's literature coverage before 1980 was much more extensive, with over 2,000 journals plus patents being examined. In 1980 Beilstein stopped patent coverage and dropped its journal coverage to only 80 titles, a number that increased gradually thereafter.


How often is the database updated?
New records are added quarterly (four times a year).


Does Beilstein cover patents?
Not anymore. Beilstein included selected worldwide chemical patents from about 1920 to 1980. Search SciFinder (Chemical Abstracts) for much more complete chemical patent coverage.


Does Beilstein contain CAS registry numbers?
Records prior to 1994 contain RNs as chemical identifiers. Records added since 1994 do not. The reason for this is a long-running licensing dispute between CAS and Elsevier. Beilstein's own "registry number" (the BRN) is not widely used and should not be confused with the CAS RN.


Can I import Beilstein references into EndNote?
Yes. (Beilstein/Gmelin citations do not include abstracts and often cite only the specific page containing a particular data point, and not starting and ending pages.
  1. Search for compound facts, structure or reactions.
  2. From each hit in results, view citations using "Get" drop down and choosing "Get all related citations".
  3. Choose "Export Hits" and then "Procite/EndNote/Reference Manager" and save as ascii text file.
  4. Open EndNote. Select your EndNote Library.
  5. Go to File/Import.
  6. Under "Import Data File," select the text file you just saved.
  7. Under "Import Options" select "Reference Manager (RIS)"
  8. Click import and your references should import automatically.


Should I search for organic compounds in SciFinder or Beilstein Crossfire?
Both. SciFinder and Beilstein are complementary resources, and although there is some overlap the two are quite different in the ways they scan and index the literature, the ways they register compounds and index reactions, and in the dates they cover. Beilstein is more useful for obtaining physicochemical data, preparation/reaction references, and especially for coverage of pre-1980 journal literature -- literature references in Beilstein go back as far as the 18th century. SciFinder is more useful for its very thorough coverage of the literature and patents from 1967 forward and its comprehensive registration of all types of chemical compounds and structures. CAS also scans far more journals than Beilstein does now. For organic and medicinal chemists, it is always advisable to search both databases for complete coverage of organic compounds and reactions.


Is there any reason to consult the printed Beilstein Handbook anymore?
For most purposes, no. However, the Beilstein database is not an exact duplication of the Handbook. Pertinent data and references were extracted from the print to create the electronic database. The Handbook entries, while in highly abbreviated German, provide some textual descriptions of synthetic chemistry that are not present in the online version. Conversely, there is much information later added to the database that was not included in the printed Handbook. The two formats are complementary rather than identical, and for this reason the print Handbook remains in the Chemistry Library.


Do we have access to the Gmelin part of Crossfire?
Yes, SIOC subscribe to the Gmelin (inorganic/organometallic) file. The Library has the complete Gmelin Handbook in print.


Where does Beilstein come from?
The database was originally created and maintained by the Beilstein Institute in Germany, drawing the core data from the printed Handbook. The Commander client interface was launched by MDL in the mid-1990s; Reed Elsevier acquired MDL in 1997. In March 2007 Elsevier purchased the Beilstein database outright from the Institute to merge with its MDL subsidiary. Later in 2007 Elsevier sold MDL to Symyx Technologies Inc., but retained ownership of the Beilstein content. We currently access the Beilstein data via the Minerva academic consortium hosted by the University of Wisconsin under a license agreement with Elsevier, using the legacy MDL Commander interface. This situation is not permanent and the interface is subject to future change.


Who pays for Beilstein Crossfire?
The cost of this resource is shared by the University Libraries, the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Division of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy.