4 Reasons Why Using MiTek’s eFrame Instead of Sapphire is Costing the Truss Company Money

4 Reasons Why Using MiTek’s eFrame Instead of Sapphire is Costing the Truss Company Money

Back in August, I wrote a post titled “6 Reasons Why MiTek Sapphire is Superior to eFrame”. You can view that post here. This was a post about superiority. Today I want to write about the cost involved with using eFrame instead of Sapphire.

MiTek has brought the truss design world along ways in such a short time. Gone are the days where everything was done by hand. Remember the days where you used calculators or long hand math? When a straight edge and loading books were your best friends?  I have heard stories from fellow designers who have used them, but I am far too young to have used any of these methods. All I can say is what a pain!


The first program I can remember seeing was Layout 4.2; mind you, when I saw it I thought it was cool. Then I was trained on eFrame and thought how in the world can anyone use 4.2? That program is a dinosaur and belongs in a museum next to DOS. Then, 3 years later, MiTek introduced Sapphire. Wow. What a game-changer. It was so much different from the previous releases.

At first I didn’t know if I liked it. After all I just spent 3 years on eFrame; learned all the ins and outs and was very comfortable with it. It didn’t take long for me to get used to Sapphire at all. Its interface is very easy to use making it faster to get things accomplished. Like anything else, I had to WANT to learn it, to WANT to change. Of course, that was the hardest part. MiTek made that part simple by being proactive and creating this amazing web-based tutorial program called MiTek University. Not only does it teach you how to use Sapphire, now it has the capability to get the designer certified through the SBCA’s TTT (Truss Technician Training) program.

Now I look back and think; Layout 4.2 can’t be a dinosaur, it has to be much older than that because eFrame, is way beyond dinosaur years in comparison to Sapphire. Maybe it’s just my age that has me thinking that way and always wanting the bigger, better, faster things. With that in mind, here are 4 reasons why I believe eFrame will lose the truss company money in the long run.

1.       Mouse Click Efficiency.

 There are so many things in eFrame that require extra clicks or mouse movements. Most of these were eliminated in Sapphire with being able to do them on the fly. Zooming is a big one for me. eFrame requires you to click the magnifier glass, then box out where you want to zoom in. Sapphire allows you to zoom in and out anywhere on the screen you want, where ever you want; all with the flick of the scroll wheel. These can save quite a bit of time.

2.       Temporary Dimensions.

Then there are the temporary dimensions. eFrame deletes these if you zoom out from an area or move the layout to where the section you took the dimension is now hidden.  I find this to be very annoying, especially when I am trying to double-check myself. Double-checking my work is what I have to do to ensure accuracy.

3.       Plane Tags.

Sapphire has a beautiful feature I can turn on called plane tags, which eFrame lacks. In order to cut a plane, you must not only find the wall you specified the plane on, but you must also find the “tag” itself. Something of a needle in the haystack problem, especially on the big jobs with dozens of planes. Once you have found the tag and begin to cut, you then have to click exactly on every tag you are cutting each plane or profiling each truss to. Sapphire puts large plane tags on walls, very easy to see. Then once you begin to cut, you can click on any of the pre-existing cut planes to cut planes in. In my eyes, this feature it one of the best upgrades to Sapphire. In eFrame, I would have to create a “plane legend” somewhere in my layout on the big jobs. Or I could spend an extra hour or two inputting trusses, trying to remember which line/wall the plan was put on!

4.       Layout Presentation Creation.

Creating layouts for presenting to the customer in eFrame is also quite time consuming. Trying to go back and use it today on an older job or to create PDFs is a job all in itself. Maybe it’s because I haven’t used it in so long, but in my opinion, such an easy task shouldn’t require a PHD in computer science! Sapphire makes this task seem like a breeze. Not only can you create custom layouts for each client or your own company, something you cannot do in eFrame, but once you create a layout all you do is click the printer button, select the given printer and bam, there’s your layout.

These are just a few things that in my mind are costing the truss company to throw money down the drain using eFrame instead of Sapphire. It takes you, the designer, longer to complete each job because of these steps. I could go on and list dozens more, but I will save that for another post!

For fun, let’s say that every time you need to zoom in on a job to a certain spot to make sure a wall it were it should be, or a truss is adjusted to the correct line, you spend 5 seconds per click. 5 seconds doesn’t seem like much at all, but if you are like me and like to be zoomed in to make sure of what I am doing, you will use this at least 50-100 times per job. That’s 5-10 extra minutes per job. Depending on how fast a designer is, this could be an extra 30-60 minutes or more in an 8hr day. That’s 30mins a designer has wasted during the day on one feature that can be eliminated by the flick of the scroll wheel. Now on huge custom homes of 5,000 sq. ft. or multi-family jobs, this number can be multiplied by 10, 15, possibly more.

For those of you that actually read this far, you now realize that each of these 4 items is performed on EVERY single job designed. I didn’t even get into time-saving on the other examples, but if something as simple as zooming can equate to that much lost time, how much time are you really wasting?

Design Administration

Gould Design, Inc.

3 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Using MiTek’s eFrame Instead of Sapphire is Costing the Truss Company Money

  1. Which method should be used? Well, the truss industry uses a combined analysis of both methods to generate wind pressures for a truss. Truss design software does give you the option to choose the method to use for a truss design. The standard practice in the component industry is to design a truss for a combination of the two methods and to specify the uplift connections based on the MWFRS.