Integrating access to web services with desktop applications allows for an expanded set of application features, including performing computationally intensive tasks and convenient searches of databases. We describe how we have enhanced UCSF Chimera (http://www.rbvi.ucsf.edu/chimera/), a program for the interactive visualization and analysis of molecular structures and related data, through the addition of several web services (http://www.rbvi.ucsf.edu/chimera/docs/webservices.html). By streamlining access to web services, including the entire job submission, monitoring and retrieval process, Chimera makes it simpler for users to focus on their science projects rather than data manipulation. Chimera uses Opal, a toolkit for wrapping scientific applications as web services, to provide scalable and transparent access to several popular software packages. We illustrate Chimera's use of web services with an example workflow that interleaves use of these services with interactive manipulation of molecular sequences and structures, and we provide an example Python program to demonstrate how easily Opal-based web services can be accessed from within an application. Web server availability: http://webservices.rbvi.ucsf.edu/opal2/dashboard?command=serviceList.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.