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New version of successful Coot software released

A new paper describing the latest developments in the Coot software, from Dr Paul Emsley in the Department and colleagues, has been published in April's issue of Acta Crystallographica (1).

Coot is an innovative and powerful macromolecular model-building tool specifically designed to build structures using X-ray data.

Published in 2004, the previous paper describing Coot software (2) has been cited over 4000 times, making it, as of December 2009, the most highly cited paper describing Free Software. It is the most highly cited paper by UK-based scientists across all disciplines in the last 5 years and ranks in second place when also comparing across all countries over that period.

The paper has been cited by the three 2009 Chemistry Nobel Prize winners and also in a number of Nature papers (see as a recent example in the Feb 11 2010 issue: 'Mechanism of substrate recognition and transport by an amino acid antiporter', Gao, X. et. al. Nature 463: 828-832).

The 2004 paper is a Current Classic in the Field: Chemistry (


Screenshot of the 'Coot' programme

Dr Emsley puts the success of the 2004 paper down to a number of unique features of the Coot software. It is easy to learn, forgiving and aesthetically pleasing. Coot has also been widely interfaced to other macromolecular software, and users benefit from its extensibility and customisability.

The new paper contains more in-depth descriptions of the new methods implemented in the Coot software. The developers have placed particular emphasis on new methods for low resolution model-building and the design of the interface so that the software can be used productively by novice users. The paper also discusses cross-platform issues and interactions with other software.

As the field of X-ray crystallography increases in popularity, so does the software that is used. Dr Emsley is optimistic that the new version of the software will be as successful as the previous.


  1. 'Features and Development of Coot.' Emsley, P., Lohkamp, B., Scott, W.G. and Cowtan, K. (2010)
  2. 'Coot: model-building tools for molecular graphics.' Emsley, P. and Cowtan, K. (2004). Acta Cryst. D60, 2126-2132.



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