Illinois Institute of Technology

ANNOUNCEMENT: X-GEN Version 5.9.3 Now Available!
ALSO: Instructions for building X-GEN are now available!

A Data Processing
Software Package
for Crystallographic
Area Detector Data
author: Andrew J. Howard
Associate Professor of Biology, IIT


X-GEN is an integrated software package for the processing of diffraction data collected on a wide variety of area detectors. X-GEN is designed primarily for processing macromolecular crystallographic data, but it has been very successfully applied to small-molecule single-crystal data as well.


X-GEN is based on Prof. Howard's long-standing XENGEN package, which works specifically on data from Xentronics-style multiwire proportional counter detectors. In the early 1990's he received an NSF Small Business grant to convert this detector-specific software into a form that could be used with other kinds of data. The resulting package, first named POLYDET and, beginning in 1993, X-GEN, continues to provide high-quality processing results for detector data. Prof. Howard is actively involved in development of X-GEN, both in extending its algorithmic reach and in providing new and better user interfaces for the code. Documentation describing changes in X-GEN as of versions 5.1.0, 5.3.1, 5.4.7, and 5.5.5 are available here. The upgrades in 5.2 are described in the 5.3 document. Descriptions of the upgrades in xgen-5.9.3 will be available soon.


X-GEN enables the processing of raw data from electronic detectors, including storage-phosphor systems. With it the user can begin with raw images and no knowledge of the sample's properties and obtain a merged, scaled, set of indices, structure amplitudes, and standard deviations for all of the Bragg reflections contained within the data. The most recent releases include provision for output in five different formats:

The X-GEN MULIST format can be converted to MTZ format by a utility already available within CCP4.

A broadly functional processing script, xgenproc is now available for download from here or as part of any of the package downloads (below).

Building X-GEN

A description of the process for building X-GEN is now available.


An overview of X-GEN's capabilities is available. A simple version is available here. Other documentation may be obtained directly as well or by download (see below). Documentation for X-GEN's file formats is included in these packagings.


An appropriate reference for X-GEN is given here and can be downloaded here.


I released a new version 5.9.3 on 15 January 2009. The following items are available as gzipped tarfiles:

File Type All Operating
(2.4 Kernel)
Mac OS X
(Darwin) 10.4
Sun OS 5.8
Sources,Resources,Documentation * 2.34MB      
Fast-loading executables and libraries   * 0.77 MB * 0.93 MB * 0.80 MB * 0.93 MB
Standalone executables   *2.05 MB * 2.30 MB * 4.00 MB *2.53 MB
Debugging executables   * 5.02 MB * 5.62 MB * 6.18 MB * 4.34 MB
Resources * 0.96 MB      
Documentation * 0.25 MB      

A Debian package for X-GEN is under development. Watch this space!

Last updated by Andrew Howard on Thursday 15 January 2009.