I have been wanting to write this for a while, and today I finally got to it. In the previous post on this blog, which was written a little under a year ago, I wrote about my ambitious plans to develop new features for MolView. I also wanted to develop it from scratch, because in the meantime my programming style had radically changed, and I had much better ideas about how to write software. But since there also were (and still are) other projects I wanted to spend my free time on, I promised myself I would only invest more time in MolView if it turned out popular enough to collect a decent amount of donations. This would be not only to make up for the invested time, but also cover service costs and allow investment in additional services (such as web-servers to perform relevant calculations).
I decided to setup an account on Bountysource where users could contribute a monthly or one-time amount, and also vote for new features or issues that have to be resolved: https://www.bountysource.com/teams/molview. I linked to this page from the loading popup on molview.org. So far five people have donated a total of 100$ (if you donated and are reading this, thank you very much, I appreciate your support!). This is enough to keep MolView online for roughly two years (which is great!), but unfortunately not enough for other endeavors.
I think it is time to face the fact that MolView is good enough as it is. Based on recent estimates there are about .6 million users a year, which is something that definitely makes me proud! But right now there is simply not enough traction to support further development. I do not have time to push this more (and for example write grant proposals), and despite the fact that some features are repeatedly requested (such as Lewis-dot diagrams), I think the vast majority of MolView users is already covered by the current feature set.
New features I personally found very interesting include a more sophisticated integration of MolView into other websites (embedding molecules with visualized bond angles for example), and providing MolView in other languages such as Spanish, French and Chinese (potentially making it easier to use for millions of younger students).
The bottom line
I more or less officially announce that MolView will stay as it is right now, and that at this time no plans exist to change it. I will keep doing my best to answer support emails, and keep MolView online and accessible for free. I have no plans to add advertising to MolView.org, in part because I am a strong opponent of advertising in general (think about it, what would a world without advertising actually look like?). If anything happens that changes any of this, I will write about it on this blog.
I also moved the main page for financial support to Patreon. I made this decision primarily because Patreon is much more well known than Bountysource. You can find the new page here: https://www.patreon.com/molview. If you believe MolView is useful, and are in the position to donate a small monthly amount, please consider doing so!