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Monogram's Creative Console with Onshape

TimRiceTimRice Member, Moderator, Onshape Employees Posts: 261
edited November 2019 in General

Disclosure: Monogram is an Onshape customer and they provided a Creative Console for me to try out.

Recently I got a chance to try out Monogram's new Creative Console and test it out with Onshape. The buttons, sliders, dials, and orbiter modules are designed to provide a tactile input for desktop applications. The accompanying app (for Windows and macOS) allows users to choose from preprogrammed profiles or create completely unique profiles to suite their workflows.

Using Creative Console with Onshape

The Monogram app allows for keyboard shortcut control over Chrome and other web browsers. Currently the button, dial, and slider modules are all compatible with web browsers and can be configured to trigger complex keyboard shortcuts and select system wide functions. 

While web browsers prevent the use of certain keyboard shortcuts Onshape utilizes the remaining keys to control many other modeling functions. Given the quantity of Onshape-specific keyboard shortcuts, it is difficult to remember all of the options. Additionally, some of these shortcuts are not very ergonomic, requiring two hands or remembering several keys. For these reasons the Monogram app allows for many exciting automations. The current list of Onshape shortcuts is below:

In my time using the Monogram modules and app I discovered several key functions that sped up my use of Onshape. Below I will share a few that I have found to be most useful.The examples are broken out by Monogram module:


Buttons are configurable to perform Chrome actions (including open webpages, search, reload), activate keyboard shortcuts, and operating system actions (including mute, right/left mouse click). Three of my most used actions include:

  • Open Action items page - with Professional and Enterprise accounts users have a centralized page, called Action items, to look through their assignments and “to do” lists. Now with a simple tap of a button, you can navigate right to your “to do” list.

  • Isometric view (shift + 7) - if you ever get lost in the details of a large assembly, this allows a quick method return to a “Home” view. Since this keyboard shortcut would require a bit of a reach, or two hands, it is perfect for a button. 

  • Open Named views dialog (shift + v) - this button press prevents you from navigating to the view cube dropdown and finding the right line to select.

  • Hide/Show Mates and Mate connectors (Macro mode: j + k) - using macro mode you can trigger multiple keys in a set interval.


Dials are configurable to perform select Chrome actions (like zoom, switch tabs), active keyboard shortcuts, and operating system actions (volume, brightness, vertical and horizontal mouse scroll). Three more of my most used actions include:

  • Undo/Redo - this allows you to scroll through Onshape Part Studio, assembly, and drawing actions.

  • Move section view and increment feature values. With the dial configured for vertical mouse scroll, any numeric input field can be incremented

  • Switch browser tab.


Sliders are configurable to modulate operating system volume and brightness. 

Give it a try:

To learn more about the Creative Console see the Monogram website:


Tim Rice | User Experience | Support 
Onshape, Inc.


  • Rickey_WangRickey_Wang Member Posts: 7 PRO

    Rickey from Monogram here. Thanks Tim for sharing!

    I believe tools should fit the way you work. Tactile controls enable a more efficient and intuitive experience interacting with software.

    What is available today is only a small taste of what is to come (🤞), since we are limited by the current set of Onshape keyboard shortcuts. Monogram customers on Adobe apps such as Lightroom, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop consistently report 30% to 50% time savings in editing. This is because majority of the functions in Adobe CC apps are directly integrated with the Creative Console.

    We are big fans of Onshape ourselves, coming from SolidWorks. In a SaaS world, the user interface can be more important than the computer itself. For example, both laptops and phones can access Google Docs, but it is more enjoyable to write on a laptop because it has a keyboard.

    I would love to hear what functions the community think would be most valuable to have on a physical control… my top wish list items are:

    • Move Rollback Bar with a dial
    • Moving the Preview Slider with a slider or dial. 

    (P.S. Please vote on the custom keyboard shortcuts IR - https://forum.onshape.com/discussion/2667/custom-keyboard-shortcuts)
    Product Design at Monogram
  • john_mcclaryjohn_mcclary Member, Developers Posts: 2,811 PRO
    edited November 2019
    I'm too much of a peripheral junkie... whyyyy.. WHYYY did you have to tease me! Looks awesome  :)
    If only it wasn't stupid expensive...  :'(
  • tim_hess427tim_hess427 Member Posts: 301 PRO
    Most valuable to have a as a physical control? 3D view manipulation with combined pan/zoom/rotate. Some competition for 3Dconnexion would be neat to see.
  • owen_sparksowen_sparks Member, Developers Posts: 2,660 PRO
    edited November 2019
    I'm too much of a peripheral junkie... whyyyy.. WHYYY did you have to tease me! Looks awesome  :)
    If only it wasn't stupid expensive...  :'(
    Many $100s to $1000+?  Say what now? That's what computers cost, not what buttons cost!
    They look nice and the modular docking looks like a good idea at first. 
    Is there a multi axis controller like the 3Dconnexion devices ?  That's the most important aspect as @tim_hess427 says. Without that, well erm, it's hard to justify in my mind, and an Arduino, some buttons and a packet of potentiometers will do just the same for a tiny fraction of the cost.
    Is there some sort of wrist support?  If not it looks like the sort of control set you'd use once a day, like a light switch or heating control, not something you'd continuously use like a mouse.
    I so want to love this product...
    Owen S.

    Business Systems and Configuration Controller
    HWM-Water Ltd
  • Rickey_WangRickey_Wang Member Posts: 7 PRO
    edited November 2019
    We try to minimize repetitive & painful movements in your workflow. 3DConnexion addresses the repetitiveness of viewport control.
    Is there something you do a lot in Onshape that could be done more efficiently (i.e. a pain point)?
    For example, moving the rollback bar requires me to move the mouse out of the way to the left, then click-and-drag the bar to a precise location, and finally move the mouse back into modelling area (I dislike click-and-drag. Having ultrawide monitor and MX Master being a heavy mouse don't help :'()
    In this case, a physical dial (or two buttons) that can move the rollback bar, next to my 3DConnexion, would allow me to stay focused on manipulating the model rather than worrying about dropping the rollback bar at the wrong place.
    Pain points like these are the ones we want to tackle first with Monogram in Onshape.
    We do have a multi-axis controller: the Orbitor module has a pressure-sensitive disc in the middle (it tilts left-right and up-down) and an encoder ring around it. This give you three axis of control. The current idea is to have the middle disc perform Rotation (2 DOF), encoder ring Zoom (1 DOF), and the mouse perform Pan (2 DOF) for a total of 5 axis of movement.

    Yeah wrist support doesn't look great in that gif, I agree. It is definitely something I want to look into. Our last-gen product (Palette Gear, left) was quite a bit thicker. The thinner profile of the Monogram modules could help with ergonomics.

    Product Design at Monogram
  • tim_hess427tim_hess427 Member Posts: 301 PRO
    @Rickey_Wang - In your rollback bar example, how does your system find the location of the bar? Is that something you've successfully done? I typically just right-click and select "roll to here" or "roll to end" as needed. 

    I think I would agree that operations involving "click-and-drag" are probably second most cumbersome to model view manipulation. 

    Are you able to control other things that currently do not have keyboard shortcuts? If so, that is probably your key value proposition. Mice with extra buttons and and gaming keypads/keyboards already make it pretty easy re-map sequences of shortcuts. But, being able to interact directly with things outside of the existing keyboard and mouse controls is more interesting to me.  

  • Rickey_WangRickey_Wang Member Posts: 7 PRO
    edited November 2019
    @tim_hess427 - The rollback bar example is currently not possible, since we can only do keyboard shortcuts / mouse emulation with Onshape today.

    That is a case where a direct integration with Onshape would enable, similar to how 3dconnexion is connected with Onshape or how we integrate with Adobe products. Direct integration means Monogram sends commands directly to Onshape, as opposed to emulating keyboard press or mouse click in the browser window. This can let us control things that currently do not have keyboard shortcuts, or where keyboard shortcuts deliver a sub-par experience*. You are dead-on about the key value prop!

    Of course, it takes engineering effort for Monogram and Onshape to make direct integration possible. With this thread, Tim and myself hope to gather feedback from the community which can guide us moving forward. I'm all ears.

    (*: say you are typing value into a text field, and you have a button assigned to "Isometric View" shift+7. Pressing the button adds "&" to the text field rather than showing isometric view)

    I find myself having internal debates whether I should click-and-drag or right click -> "roll to here" sometimes, since "Roll to here" is quite far down the context menu. But if the bar is reallllly far away then it's for sure worth it =P

    Product Design at Monogram
  • tim_hess427tim_hess427 Member Posts: 301 PRO
    edited November 2019
    Thanks, @Rickey_Wang - that certainly clears things up. 

    Just throwing some things out that could be helpful.
    • Model view manipulation (as previously mentioned)
    • Generally, moving some shortcuts around. It bugs me that I have to move my left hand all the way over to the right-side of my keyboard to hit the "L" key when the other sketching shortcuts are easily accessible with my left hand (Esc, space, Q, R...). For some reason, I have never gotten used to double-clicking to end a line. I end up forgetting to double-click, then I have to hit escape, then hit "L" again to start the next line. Its probably just me, but its frustrating. 
    • Macros to automate document and/or file operations like exporting highlighted drawing tabs or highlighted parts. 
    • scrolling up/down and left/right in the history tree.
    • scrolling up/down in part-studio feature tree and assembly instance list.
    • Shortcuts to select specif standard planes (Top, Right, Front) so that I can leave them hidden, but still use them quickly. 
    • Adjust the height of the parts list in a part studio, so that I can minimize it and see more features when needed, but then quickly bring it up to select or show/hide parts an needed. 
    EDIT: Any chance we could just get your custom software that interacts directly with Onshape, so we can use it with our own hardware? I can definitely see value in software layer that would allow me to customize interactions with Onshape. I'd be kicked out of my house if I spent $300 on a few buttons, though.
  • Rickey_WangRickey_Wang Member Posts: 7 PRO
    edited November 2019
    Thanks @tim_hess427 ! Those are great suggestions wow.
    • Moving shortcuts around is a big benefit. I have a button mapped to isometric view since it's an annoying shortcut to hit with fingers. (A popular Premiere Pro mapping is Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M for Clear All Edit Markers)
    • For parts list & planes, what do you think of using a dial to scroll through Parts List/dedicated list of planes, then press the dial to hide/show? 
    • A dedicated dial is used to select items in the list, press down the dial toggles visibility. You would use two dials in this setup: one for parts and one for planes. 
    Generally speaking, dials are more versatile as a module. A dial module can be assigned to three of the items you asked for: (1) Toggle Planes visibility, (2) Toggle Parts visibility, and, say, (3) scrolling history tree.

    Another idea I had was to use a slider module (which has 3 sliders on it) to run cross-section view on X, Y, and Z planes. It would save the whole song and dance of shift+X, show standard planes, select plane/face, click and drag.

    Monogram is a small startup. For simplicity, we include cost of the customization software layer into retail price of hardware retail price. One definition for 'startup' is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Right now we create value in both hardware and software for photo/video markets. But maybe some markets (i.e. CAD) the value prop is different, and we could re-align the business model accordingly. 
    Product Design at Monogram
  • tim_hess427tim_hess427 Member Posts: 301 PRO
    I do like the idea of sliders to quickly change cross-sections. I could see using three sliders (one for each direction) or one slider and some other shortcut to select the direction.

    For using dials to scroll through parts lists and show/hide things: I don't think this would be very useful for me. When I'm showing/hiding things in an assembly, I'm usually either a) isolating one part or b) hiding some combination of parts, where scrolling and hiding them individually would probably be slower than selecting multiples with a mouse. 
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