Fitting workflows

The settings and steps by which a new bespoke force field is generated is referred to as a fitting workflow within bespoke fit (represented by the BespokeOptimizationSchema object), and are usually created by feeding an OpenFF Molecule object into a BespokeWorkflowFactory.

The default workflow

The default workflow is suitable for augmenting a general SMIRNOFF force field (currently theOpenFF 2.0.0 force field) with a new bespoke torsion term for each non-terminal rotatable bond in the input molecule, trained to reproduce a bespoke one-dimensional quantum chemical torsion scan performed around that bond.

In this section, we’ll build this workflow factory up from nothing. This is just for a demonstration; you can always build this factory by simply instantiating the BespokeWorkflowFactory class without arguments.

The default workflow has five steps:

  1. Parameter selection: Choose the features of the molecule to create bespoke parameters for.

  2. Fragmentation: Break the molecule into parts large enough to have accurate chemistry, but small enough for efficient quantum chemical calculations.

  3. QC Generation: Perform quantum chemical calculations on the fragments to generate reference data for the bespoke parameters to reproduce.

  4. Parameter generation: Generate SMIRKS codes encoding the chosen molecular features and choose starting values for their parameters

  5. Optimization: Optimize the force field parameters into bespoke parameters that reproduce the quantum chemical data.

A workflow factory can be constructed piecemeal by first calling the constructor to create one with the default settings, and then overriding them by assigning to each field later:

from openff.bespokefit.workflows import BespokeWorkflowFactory

factory = BespokeWorkflowFactory()

Parameter selection

Torsion parameters are selected for bespoke fitting by specifying a list of SMIRKS patterns to the target_torsion_smirks field. Each SMIRKS pattern should have two indexed atoms; torsion parameters will be generated for rotations around the bond between these atoms:

from openff.fragmenter.fragment import WBOFragmenter

factory.target_torsion_smirks = ['[!#1]~[!$(*#*)&!D1:1]-,=;!@[!$(*#*)&!D1:2]~[!#1]']


BespokeFit uses OpenFF Fragmenter to fragment molecules. Fragmentation can be configured by subclasses of the titular Fragmenter class, which are accepted directly by BespokeFit. By default, the fragmentation scheme aims to ensure the Wiberg bond order (WBO) of the target bond is the same in the parent and the fragment is used. This is used as a proxy of the electronic environment around the bond. Fragmentation is configured via the fragmentation_engine field:

from openff.fragmenter.fragment import WBOFragmenter

factory.fragmentation_engine = WBOFragmenter()

QC Generation

BespokeFit uses target schemas to define the types of reference data to train the bespoke parameters to. Each target type has a corresponding QC data type that must be generated as part of the bespoke fitting process to use as a reference. A target that measures the deviation between a QC and MM torsion scan, for example, will require a 1D QC torsion scan to be performed.

The target schema also describes how strongly deviations from the reference data contributes to the overall loss function to be minimzed during the optimization stage. Target schema classes are subclasses of BaseTargetSchema, and schemas for torsion drives, vibration fitting, and several other targets are available in the openff.bespokefit.schema.targets module. Target schemas are specified with the target_templates field:

from openff.bespokefit.schema.targets import TorsionProfileTargetSchema

factory.target_templates = [TorsionProfileTargetSchema()]

We can also specify how we want to generate any reference data, including the program used, method, basis set, and level of theory. This is specified with instances of the QCSpec class from QCSubmit. If multiple specifications are provided, the factory will try them in order until it finds one that is both available on the executing machine and that supports the target molecule. Note that this may lead to BespokeFit silently behaving differently on machines with different software installed. Reference data generation methods are specified via the default_qc_specs field:

from openff.qcsubmit.common_structures import QCSpec

factory.default_qc_specs = [QCSpec()]

Parameter generation

Generation of SMIRKS codes for the bespoke parameters can be configured through the smirk_settings field, which takes a SMIRKSettings object:

from openff.bespokefit.utilities.smirks import SMIRKSettings

factory.smirk_settings = SMIRKSettings(

Parameter generation also needs an initial force field to use as a starting point. The initial_force_field field should be the filename of a force field in offxml format:

factory.initial_force_field = "openff-2.0.0.offxml"


BespokeFit optimizers are configured by subclasses of BaseOptimizerSchema. The default workflow uses ForceBalance to optimize torsion parameters, so we’ll use ForceBalanceSchema to configure it. The default settings are designed for optimizing parameters of an OpenFF force field, and can be configured via the optimizer field:

from openff.bespokefit.schema.optimizers import ForceBalanceSchema

factory.optimizer = ForceBalanceSchema()

Finally, we need to configure hyperparameters that describe the parameter’s priors and how they can be fitted to the reference data. Hyperparameter classes inherit from BaseSMIRKSHyperparameters; specific classes for bonds, angles, proper and improper torsions, and van der Waals forces are available. Since we’re only fitting proper torsions, only those hyperparameters are needed; they can be specified via the parameter_hyperparameters field:

from openff.bespokefit.schema.smirnoff import  ProperTorsionHyperparameters

factory.parameter_hyperparameters = [ProperTorsionHyperparameters()]

Constructing a workflow

Once the workflow factory has been configured, a workflow for a particular molecule can be constructed with the optimization_schema_from_molecule() method:

from openff.toolkit import Molecule

biphenyl = Molecule.from_smiles("C1=CC=C(C=C1)C2=CC=CC=C2")
workflow = factory.optimization_schema_from_molecule(biphenyl)

Sharing a workflow factory

It’s very important to be able to share a customized workflow factory, both so that any results produced can be reproducibly documented in the scientific literature and so that we can be sure we’re using the same procedure on different molecules at different times. Workflow factories can be saved to disk with the to_file() method:


The resulting JSON file can be distributed with a paper or pre-print, or shared with colleagues. Exported factories can then be used either with theBespokeWorkflowFactory.from_file() class method:

from openff.bespokefit.workflows import BespokeWorkflowFactory
factory = BespokeWorkflowFactory.from_file("my_bespoke_workflow.json")