Open Babel is a chemical toolbox designed to speak the many languages of chemical data. It's an open, collaborative project allowing anyone to search, convert, analyze, or store data from molecular modeling, chemistry, solid-state materials, biochemistry, or related areas.
That means that Open Babel has two main pieces:
- Ready-to-use programs for interconverting, searching, modifying, and analyzing chemical files
- A complete programmer's toolkit to allow easy chemistry software development
In the beginning there was Babel, which translated between computational chemistry file formats. And it was useful, liked by many and lived many years. Eventually there was OBabel which never saw the light as a released product. But OBabel lead to OELib. This was open and free. What was OELib has become Open Babel (C++) and JOELib (Java) and both will remain open, free, chemical software toolkits.
So maybe it's not an epic story. But it's a continuing one. Open Babel is a commnunity effort -- many thanks to many previous contributors!