[feature request] COMPLETE: Changing the work area in Easel

Update this was deployed on April 14th, 2015. See the announcement thread: [new feature] Larger work area support


Easel only currently supports a single work area size for the 2D interface: 12" x 12" corresponding to the work area of the Shapeoko 2. But we’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding expanding this from people who have customized their machine with longer rails. And now that there is a simple upgrade option with the X-Carve to 1000mm rails. So we are going to tackle this problem for real.


Expandable 2D work area. While this seems straightforward, it requires several other features:

  • The ability to zoom and pan (with triple the work area, the fixed viewport thing won’t work)
  • Displaying the material size on the 2D editor. Right now we only display the material limits on the 3D side
  • An updated waste board to display on the 3D side to go with the expanded work area


This feature will be released by the end of April, by the time X-Carve starts shipping.

Progress / Updates

[3/3/2015] Here is a prototype panning and zooming interface for the 2D editor of Easel. Immediately there are several interaction questions that come up:

  • How should zoom / pan work with the mouse? The 3D side uses click-drag for orbit, scroll for zoom and right-click-drag for panning. Should we follow the same on the 2D side?
  • Should the objects be constrained within the work area? Or can you move them outside the work area?
  • Where should the UI for changing machine size go?

nice update. I look forward to seeing how this develops and of course using it when I build my 1000mm X-Carve

I got to say that the work area interface in cambam is pretty good, it would be a good starting point. :smile:

Zoom and pan should work the same in 3D and 2D; it will be one less thing to remember.
Objects shouldn’t be constrained to the work area, but there should be some visual indication that an object crosses the work area’s boundary. Sometimes my work area is a function of the design, and sometimes the design is a function of the work area, so I’d prefer that Easel not constrain objects to within the work area.

Perfect! i need this urgent!

It should be definitely be possible to selectively pick pieces of the design in order to be able to cut them at different depths, etc.I also agree that zoom and pan should work the same in 3D and 2D.I also think it would be cool if one could center an object to the work area.

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I’m completing my Shapeoko 2 with a work area of 18" by 60". It will be great if Easel supports this!

Its posible to have this up date early?, it will be posible to have a working area bigger than 1 x 1 m, i will be growing my shapeoko soon…

@billarnold Yes it will support an arbitrary work area so you can set yours.

@FedericoArroyo our software engineering team is working on it right now if they finish early we will release it without delay.

Thanks for your enthusiasm. Exciting to hear that you’ll be growing your machine. What kind of stuff do you plan to make with the bigger bed size?

I think it would be useful if it would be possible to snap objects to x or y axis :slight_smile:

Its been a few weeks since an update how is the progress coming along?

Yes there is progress! I’ll post photos/videos when I get into work tomorrow morning, but I’ll just describe a bit of what we’ve been doing.

First we separated the feature into two, one for changing the work area, and one for zooming/panning the 2d editor. Turns out they are completely separate, code-wide, but zooming the 2d editor is an “interface requirement” for a larger work area. The reason is that if we just built larger work area, it would make selecting/working with small objects that much worse.

So we started building zooming first. Last week we went through a half-dozen different interaction modes, trying to figure out what the most natural way to zoom and pan the editor would be. We tested with several combinations of input devices (mouse with a scroll wheel, laptop trackpads, etc) and interaction modes (scrolling, dragging, swiping, pinching, etc). We added scroll bars to aid users who aren’t used to trackpads/scrolling, and added zooming buttons and a “home” button in case you get lost on the interface.

Again, I’ll update this post in the morning when I can make a little demo of where we are at. Very interested in getting some feedback.

[Update: here is a video of it]

Work area expansion will be up after that. Not much to do interface-wise there, so it should be quick (famous last words). Once that is done, it’ll be ready for user testing.

As a reminder of what else is on our plate over the next month (in time for shipping x-carve), we’ve also got the gcode-controlled spindle and an Easel machine setup walkthrough to help new users get their axes setup and confirm their wiring before running their first job.


Hey Paul! Thanks for such a thorough update. Sounds like your making great progress over there and I cannot wait to get my hands on the software to test it out! Im trying to get as comfortable with everything on the software side before my x-carve arrives so there will hopefully be a smaller learning curve.

Hey just so you know I posted a video from working on it today:

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Looks really good, great work! Cant wait to get my hands on it.

Oh Yeah! Sweet! Nice Work!

wow! can`t wait to be able to try it out! Thanx, guys! :slight_smile:

Update: We just pushed live the ability to zoom and pan the 2D editor. Give it a try and let us know if you encounter any kinds of issues, or have any suggestions.

The next thing is to actually build the feature to allow you to change the work area. This is fairly minor compared to the actual zooming / panning (which set the stage, code-wise, for expanded work area).

Enjoy, and thanks for the feedback!

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Looks and feels great! Really nice work, keep it up!