Announcing the Program VMD, Version 1.0
The Theoretical Biophysics group at the University of Illinois and the
Beckman Institute would like to announce the availability of version
1.0 of the program VMD, a new package for the graphical display and
visualization of biomolecular systems. This software is being made
available to the structural biology research community free of charge,
and includes the source code for VMD, documentation, and a precompiled
binary for Silicon Graphics workstations running version 5 or later of
the IRIX operating system. The documentation, in postscript form,
includes an installation guide, a users guide, and a programmers guide
for interested researchers. VMD also provides on-line help through
the use of an external HTML viewer such as Mosaic or Netscape.
A more complete description of VMD is available via the VMD WWW home page:
The software itself is available via anonymous ftp in the directory:
(please see the README file in this directory for the latest version info)
VMD is designed for the visualization of biological systems such as
proteins, nucleic acids, lipid bilayer assemblies, etc. It may be
used to view more general molecules, as VMD can read standard Protein
Data Bank (PDB) files and display the contained structure. VMD
provides a wide variety of methods for rendering and coloring a
molecule: simple points and lines, CPK spheres and cylinders, licorice
bonds, backbone tubes and ribbons, and others. VMD can be used to
animate and analyze the trajectory of a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation.
In particular, VMD can act as a graphical front end for an external MD
program by displaying and animating a molecule undergoing simulation
on a remote computer.
The program has many features, which include:
o Many molecular rendering and coloring methods.
o Stereo display capability.
o Extensive atom selection syntax for choosing subsets of atoms for
display (includes boolean operators, regular expressions, and
o Integration with the program 'Babel' which allows VMD to read many
molecular data file formats. Even without the use of Babel,
VMD can read PDB files, as well as CHARMM- and X-PLOR compatible
binary DCD files and X-PLOR compatible PSF files.
o Ability to write the current image to a file which may be
processed by a number of popular raytracing and image rendering
packages, including POV-Ray, Rayshade, and Raster3D.
o Extensive graphical and text-based user interfaces, which use the
Tcl package to provide full scripting capabilities.
o Modular, extensible source code using an object-oriented design in
C++, with a programmers guide describing the source code structure.
o Integration with the program NAMD, a fast, parallel, and scalable
molecular dynamics program developed in conjunction with VMD
in the Theoretical Biophysics Group at the University of Illinois.
See the NAMD WWW home page for more info:
VMD can be used to set up and concurrently display a MD simulation
using NAMD. The two programs, along with the intermediary
communcations package (called MDComm) constitute the 'MDScope'
VMD runs on Silicon Graphics workstations and may be compiled
for HP-UX workstations if the NPGL library (a commercial port of the SGI GL
library, available from Portable Graphics, Inc.) is available on your system.
Two versions of the distribution are available, one including the complete
VMD source code, and one which just includes a precompiled VMD executable for
SGI IRIX version 5.
VMD, NAMD, and the entire MDScope environment are part of an ongoing project
within the Theoretical Biophysics group to help provide free, effective tools
for molecular dynamics studies in structural biology. This project is funded
by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
/* Bill Humphrey (billh at ks.uiuc.edu) */
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