Rasmol vs Chime for School use
Both these programs are molecular viewing packages widely used in Universities and research. Chime was, in fact, developed from Rasmol. Universities tend to favour Chime because it can be used in conjunction with web pages, and can be used to run molecular tutorials, though the tutorials currently available are aimed at University use.
Unfortunately, Chime can ONLY be used in conjunction with a web browser (though you don't need to be online) and requires Netscape or Internet Explorer (it is designed for Netscape, so it may not work perfectly with Internet Explorer) - it is actually a 'plug in' for these browsers. Chime is essential for viewing molecular images on many Chemistry sites on the net.
Rasmol, on the other hand, runs on its own, and has more flexibility for viewing and manipulating individual molecules. This means that I believe Rasmol will be more useful for schools when used in a teaching or demonstration context. It can be used equally easily to view and manipulate (rapidly) 3D 'pictures' of anything from the simplest molecules such as methane to proteins such as haemoglobin.
So it is not a matter of which is best - they both have uses in school within different contexts. Luckily, they are both free!
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© copyright Ray Le Couteur Last update March 2005