This chapter discusses managing projects, storing the state of NMRVIEW between sessions, and the reading and writing of what we'll refer to as derived data, which includes information such as peak lists, assignments , polymer sequences, and constraints.

NMRView can export and import derived data from and to simple tabular files. Many users rely on this method for maintaining a persistent copy of their data between NMRView sessions. Import and export of peak lists is invoked via the File menu of the Peak Analysis panel (Read Peaks and Write Peaks), assignments through the File menu of the Atom Assignments panel (Read PPM and Write PPM), and sequences through the Molecule->Read_Topology->Sequence menu item on the main control panel.

While supported, the above protocol is not the most appropriate method for maintaining a persistent copy of the data. The various read/write methods were actually designed as a means for transferring data between NMRView and other programs. Using an external program for automated assignments, for example, could be done by exporting the peak list from NMRView and then using programs such as awk, tcl or perl to translate the list to the native format of the external program. It is particularly important to note that not all information about internal information such as peak lists is saved in to the peak list text files. If you are working with an NMRVIEW module such as RunAbout you will lose essential information for the module if you use lists (instead of STAR files discussed below) to save your data. So don't do it.

The preferred method for persistent data storage in NMRView is to write and read files in the NMR-STAR format ( This format was chosen for NMRView because it is platform independent and conforms to a standard. Because it is the format developed and used by the BioMagResBank for archival of NMR data, the end results of user's NMR assignment process is already in the format necessary for uploading to the BMRB. Hopefully, this feature will encourage users to upload their data. Finally, NMRView is one of the few programs that can actually read and display BMRB NMR-STAR files. This means it is possible to download files from the BMRB and load them directly into NMRView. The large quantity of data available from the BMRB is thus available to NMR users for aiding in the assignment of homologous proteins or statistical analysis of chemical shift assignments of proteins.

NMRVIEW now also includes comprehensive project management features that relieves you of the need to explicitly manage your STAR files and window state files. When beginning to work with a new project you will find it very advantageous to set up an NMRVIEW project right at the start.

As of version 4.0.0, NMRView stores derived information in a text file that uses a STAR format. This is the same type of format used by the BioMagResBank. NMR-STAR files from the BMRB can be read into NMRView. The files created by NMRView are largely conformant with the NMR-STAR format. Minor changes have been made in order to ensure that all the relevant information is stored. In particular the format used for peak lists has been modified so as to store information about ambiguous assignments. Earlier versions of NMRVIEW used the STAR 2.x format. Starting with NMRViewJ 8.0 we support the new STAR 3.0 format which allows us to support additional information in the STAR files. For example, the RunAbout module makes extensive use of Resonances, which are newly supported in STAR 3.0.

The data for each category of NMR information, assignments, 3D structures peak lists etc., are grouped together within the STAR file in a so-called Saveframe. Within each saveframe the data is described by a series of keyword-data pairs. For example, the following are some of the keyword-data pairs describing a protein (ubiquitin).

_Entity.Sf_category                 entity
_Entity.framecode                           ubiq
_Entity.ID                           1
_Entity.Name                        ubiq
_Entity.Type                          polymer
_Entity.Polymer_type                  polypeptide(L)
_Entity.Polymer_strand_ID            A
_Entity.Polymer_seq_one_letter_code_can  ?
_Entity.Number_of_monomers            76
_Entity.Nstd_monomer                  no

_Entity.Nomenclature                  IUPAC
_Entity.Capped                  yes

Repetitive information is stored in the form of loops. For example, the amino-acid sequence of the above polymer is stored as:


1 1 MET . 1
2 2 GLN . 1
3 3 ILE . 1
4 4 PHE . 1
5 5 VAL . 1

The scientists at the BMRB have done a particularly thorough job of defining saveframes and the corresponding keyword-data pairs that can be used to define the types of NMR data that are typically measured on biological macromolecules. Included in the NMRView database are the peaklists, the chemical shift assignments, the molecular topology of any sequence currently in use, and the coordinates of any structures that have been read into NMRView.

NMRView reads certain of the data in the database in a way that is optimized for speed. For example, chemical shifts, assignments, peaklists and coordinates are read by special routines and stored in optimized data structures. All other data are read and stored into Tcl variables. Any information in the database will be read as long as it corresponds to the STAR format (one exception is that, at present, nested loops are not read). Thus the end user can add new saveframes to store any information and know that NMRView will read it and store it in an accessible manner.

Describe accessing STAR data (to be written).

If you're working with a Project (see next section) all reading and writing of STAR files will be done via the project tools. But if you want to work directly with STAR files without a project use the entries in the File > STAR menus. When you first create a STAR file it is a good idea to name the file something like myfile1.str, where the name ends with a non-integer character followd by an integer value. Then you, as you're working you can periodically use the File > STAR > Save STAR3 (Autoincrement) menu entry. This will generate a name for the star file that increments the integer portion of the name (myfile2.str, myfile3.str etc.).

For new projects you should be working with STAR version 3.x format files, but if you need to work with existing files in the version 2.x format you can use the entries in the File > STAR2 (deprecated) menu. It is possible to load a version 2.x file, and write out a version 3.x file to upgrade the format of the file.

NMRVIEW can directly load STAR 3 files from the BMRB. Note, that the BMRB has not updated all of the entries to the new STAR 3.x format so there may be entries that you want, but which are unavailable through this Fetch method. Available entries can be downloaded within NMRVIEW by choosing the File > STAR > Fetch from BMRB menu item. In the dialog that appears enter the accession number (e.g. 15430) and click the Fetch button. The selected entry will be downloaded to a file on your computers disk and loaded into NMRView. Before downloading another entry you should use the Clear button in the Project browser This will clear out the existing entry. Tip: if your are behind a firewall you may need to enter a proxy name and port number in order to access the BMRB.


Projects are managed as a set of folders (directories) under one project folder. Prior to NMRViewJ version 9.2 the folder for each project was always placed inside another folder that stored a group of projects. Starting with version 9.2, projects can be placed anywhere.

A project can be created before or after you start working analyzed data. A new project can be created by choosing New from the File>Project menu.


Creating a new project does not immediately save any current data such as peak lists and assignments. You must explicitly use the Save menu item. As an alternative, use Save... from the Project menu to create a new project and save the current data into it.

After you select the New menu item a file chooser will appear. Use it to browse to the location you want the new project to be created in, enter a project name next to Save As:, and click Save.

Versions of NMRViewJ prior to 9.2 presented you with the option to use XPLOR style naming rather than IUPAC naming for atoms. Current versions default to using IUPAC naming (there are workarounds for this if needed, see the useIUPAC flag listed in the section below on the project.txt file).

The new project folder will be created along with a set of project specific sub-folders. The structure of the project root and one example project folder as will be created in this process are shown here.

Six different sub-folders will be found in each project:


Any NMR datasets readable by NMRViewJ that are in this folder will be opened automatically whenever the project is opened, if the Datasets check button is selected.


When you save a project, a STAR 3 format file will be created here containing the molecular topology, peak lists, atomic assignments, distance and dihedral constraints, and other information. When you open a project, the latest STAR file as defined by the numerical extension (file1.str, file2.str etc.) will be opened, if the STAR check button is selected.


The default directory when you read and write peak lists is this directory. But, please remember, you shouldn't need to explicitly write peak lists as all peak information will be stored in the STAR file.


You can save the state of any opened spectral window by clicking the Spectrum icon bar Favorites icon. The window state will be saved in this folder.


Any Tcl scripts that are stored in this folder will be sourced in when the project is opened. This is the appropriate place to put any project specific scripts.


The default directory when you read and write structure (PDB) files is this directory.

When a project is loaded datasets are automatically opened from a a set of specified directories. The project's own dataset directory is always scanned and you can add additional directories in the Data Dirs section of the Project Attributes window. You can display this window from the Attributes menu item in the Project menu. Click the Browse button in this section to select directories you wish to include. As you select directories they will appear in the list. You can remove a directory by highlighting the entry in the list and clicking the Delete key.

When NMRVIEW scans the listed directories it looks not only in each specified directory, but recursively through any sub-folders. Thus it will fid any datasets contained anywhere below the listed directories.

When a new project is created a a project file (project.txt) containing the state of various parameters will be created inside the project folder. A typical project file is shown here and contains parameters specifying whether to load datasets, load the latest STAR file, and whether to use IUPAC mode for atom nomenclature. Note that by default, the if the dataPath entries refer to folders in your HOME directory they will be specified relative to the symbolic home location. That way you can copy the project folder to another computer where you have datasets in a similar relationship to the home directory.

loadStar 1
loadDatasets 1
useIUPAC 1
dataPath {$env(HOME)/nvprojects2/test2/datasets}
dataPath {$env(HOME)/data/titrationkg}

You can open an existing project (including newly created ones) by using the Open menu item in the Project menu.
the project in the Available Projects list and clicking the Open button. If you have any existing project data open (peak lists and molecular structures) you will get a warning and a request that data needs be be cleared first. You can explicitly remove any existing project data by clicking the the Clear button located next to the name of the Active Project. Note you can use this button even if you're not working with a project and simply want to remove data such as molecules and peak lists so that you can, for example, load a new STAR file.

When you open the project all appropriate datasets will be loaded, the latest STAR file will be read and the project window description file will be processed so that all spectral windows should be displayed as they were when you saved the project.

As you work with a project you should periodically use the <span class="menuchoice">File > Projects > Save menu item to save the project data. Each time you do this a new STAR file will be written to the projects' star folder and the state of all windows will be saved.

When you're working with a project you can take advantage of the Favorites system. This lets you save and reload the state of any windows (this is separate from the saving of all window states that happens when you save the whole project). Just click the button on the Spectrum window's icon bar to save state of the currently active window. You'll be prompted for a window name and then the window data will be written into a ".nvw" file in the win folder of the current project. You can retrieve the window state by selecting the the <span class="menuchoice">Windows > Favorites menu item. When you do this a list of all available window files for that project will be displayed. Just select one and click the Open button.