One Designer’s Opinion on Which Is Better: ITW’s Alpine or MiTek’s Sapphire?

One Designer’s Opinion on Which Is Better: ITW’s Alpine or MiTek’s Sapphire?

If you spend much time around truss design technicians, you’re bound to hear a discussion on the merits and shortcomings of each software used to perform job duties. Each has its strengths and shortcomings. As human beings, we are naturally more inclined to be partial to what we are comfortable with. That is certainly true in my case. We tend to forget that the ONLY constant in life IS change.

Having started my truss design career using Alpine, I firmly believed that it was the “Cadillac” of truss design software. Of course I was biased and had never even seen or used MiTek, never the less I was absolutely certain that nothing could be better than Alpine. After all, the software has a very easy to learn user interface, almost all of the information you need is readily available; nothing could be easier. After 12 years of using the program daily nothing was easier. Then I moved away and took on a position with a remote design firm, where I was introduced to MiTek Sapphire. I felt like I had just landed in a foreign country and I didn’t know the language. I knew what I wanted to say, but had no idea how to ask for it.


Such was my first impression of MiTek. The icons were different, the path to accomplish what I needed to do was different; even the procedure to accomplish my goal was different. Everything was foreign!! I knew what I wanted to do but had no idea how or where to find the commands. As I became more immersed in the design firm’s professional development program learning the software, it began to occur to me what was daunting to me was the sheer amount of information available to me.

I finally realized that this amazing MiTek program can be set up to do ANYTHING you want to do with trusses and other building components. I can customize the program to my liking, to my tendencies, to my proficiencies. I had so many choices’ I didn’t even know where to begin.  The hardest part was to quit thinking with an Alpine “mindset” and look over the horizon. Here was a program that allowed me to control every facet of my design. Where Alpine gave me a set of tools I could build with, MiTek gives me a choice of tools to build with.

There is no doubt the end result is similar no matter which software you use; a well-designed roof system. However, the method, time of completion and detail you choose to incorporate will vary greatly depending on your choice. I can say now with certainty that even though I am comfortable designing with ITW’s Alpine at this point; I am considerably more impressed with MiTek Sapphire. MiTek is not a Cadillac like Alpine, that’s true; MiTek is more like a Ferrari.

What are your thoughts on the variations between them? I would love to hear your comments.

NOTE: The commentary above is a reflection of my own personal opinion and should not be misconstrued negatively.

Charles Burke – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.