How I Learned Sapphire After a 9 Year Hiatus Away From Trusses

How I Learned Sapphire After a 9 Year Hiatus Away From Trusses

When I was originally hired into the truss industry, it was by a fairly large-sized company. Two other designers were hired at the same time. Initially, I was taught about planes, slopes, loading, etc. Then after a few weeks of putting pencil to paper and drawing up different elevations and correlating trusses, I was handed a paperback book and told to open MiTek and start at page one, learning eFrame.

Of course, I did what I was told. This book was very basic. Just a few of the simplest commands were taught. How to put in walls, roof planes, and trusses was the big accomplishment attained in the training. The book indicated how to pull up a 3D view and how to send trusses to engineering. Other than that, there wasn’t much of an introduction to MiTek. I think that the thought process was to ask questions to my peers along the way. Information was provided in micro units. However, eventually one picks up on different elements of a program with continuous use.

Before embarking upon my current position in early 2015, the last time that I used MiTek was in 2006. Needless to say, there have been a number of upgrades and changes to the software. Thankfully, the training regiments I was put through was quite a bit more in-depth than the first go around. I have learned a number of new tricks in the software that add to the ease of use.

For instance, selecting a family of blocking can be done by holding down the ALT key and selecting one piece of blocking. There are a bundle of little useful tips like the one just mentioned that are new to me and that I am happy to have learned. This is truly a different world for me. I don’t know everything about the program, but the information is provided in almost a buffet style set up. I can literally pick and choose from what I need to know, what I want to know, and I can hold off on things that I feel I need to wait on.

MiTek may not be the most user-friendly program available for truss design; however, it is a powerhouse. In retrospect, MiTek always has been a very capable program. This program can do anything that is needed by a truss designer. The key is in knowing how to get a task accomplished. The software is only as good as its user, right?

Both years ago and today, it is very important to have some structure when setting up the layout. Once a habit is formed as to the order of layout input, the rest comes more naturally. I’ve gotten a nice pattern to how I set up a layout and have started diving a bit deeper into the program. Settings can be changed in order to provide different information on a layout. Loading can be applied to beams that then are able to be analyzed in Sapphire. Changes can be made to a single element in a family or to the family by either adjusting a local or properties setting.


The software truly is amazing. I’ve discovered that MiTek only appears to be a non-user friendly program. Simply put, MiTek is a very advanced program and requires the user to have adequate knowledge of the software in order to use it properly. I don’t think I could have done it without the very specific training program and the support of the team I now work with.

In short, being away for many years definitely has had its setbacks and challenges. That being said, I am learning far more than I knew before at a considerably faster rate. The program continues to meet the demands of the job and provides skills to increase the ability of the designer by requiring a comprehensive understanding of everything entailed in truss design.

Ashley Casey – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.