Carl Zeiss has released the Zen 2007 software to help users control image acquisition during laser scanning microscopy. The program reduces the complexity of the interface to the minimum without diminishing the range and scope of the functions available. Zen does this by switching between Basic and Professional mode in response to user input, which allows the users to focus their full attention on the specimen.
The Zen user interface is clearly structured and flexible, allowing it to be individually tailored to each experiment and user. Organised into three zones that follow the typical workflow of experiments, image acquisition and microscope control tools are on the left, the central worktable for image viewing takes up the majority of the screen and file management tools sit on the right. The left toolbar automatically adapts to each user’s personal requirements and can be decoupled and freely positioned on the screen if required.
ZEN’s centre pane is optimised for displaying and interacting with the acquired image data. The tools are clearly arranged under the image and activate and deactivate as necessary. The ‘Exposé’ mode displays images from up to three image containers simultaneously to allow comparison.
The colour and brightness of ZEN’s input fields and buttons are carefully adapted to the typical lighting conditions encountered in a laboratory environment. The resulting improvement in contrast makes it possible to recognise details in fluorescence images that were not visible before. The optimisation of the screen display for the 30-inch widescreen format creates additional space, which is useful in particular for complex experiments in which a large number of tool palettes and view windows are open simultaneously.