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What is Zen?

Now that we have created our Contact class and populated it with test data, we will use Zen to build a Web form for displaying and editing the Contact instances.

Zen is a component based and object-oriented Web application framework. With Zen you can rapidly develop data intensive web applications with rich and highly interactive user interfaces. Here are some of Zen's main benefits:

  • Rapid development: Zen applications can be built rapidly by assembling pre-built and ready-to-use components. These components can be combined to create new composite components. Since all components are Caché classes, they can be quickly and easily extended to create new custom components.

  • Highly responsive and richly interactive user interfaces: Zen based user interfaces can communicate asynchronously with the Caché server using the XMLHttpRequest object. This means that Web clients can exchange data with the Caché server without page transitions. Moreover, Zen automatically handles the details of XMLHttpRequest data interchange. Developers code only using objects and need not concern themselves with the details of parsing XML or text files.

  • Database Integration: Zen provides a sophisticated object model that is shared between the client and server sides of the application.

  • SVG Integration: Many Zen components use Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) to provide exceptionally rich and interactive user interfaces. These components include SVG charts and meters.

  • HTML 5 and CSS 3 Support. The default doctype is HTML 5 for all browsers that support HTML 5 and CSS 3. Zen provides a CSS 3 stylesheet to compatible browsers.

  • Security: Zen offers tight integration with Caché database security.


Zen does not replace or deprecate Caché Server Pages (CSP)—InterSystems tag based Web application framework. In fact, Zen is built on top of CSP.

For a more thorough list of the benefits of building Web applications with Zen, read Benefits of Zen in the Introducing Zen chapter of Using Zen.

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