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Truss Designers: How to Increase Productivity by Getting the Most from Your Mouse

The mouse is the most heavily used tool for truss designers.  Maximizing speed, accuracy, and productivity is the key to being an effective designer.  And being a design is all about work smart, right?  Let’s take a look at some ways to do just that and get the most from your mouse!

First what mouse are you using?

truss-design-mouse

If you are using a standard two or three button mouse you are missing out on a lot of functions that can be quickly done with your mouse hand.  I currently use a mouse with 10 customizable buttons.  It is wireless and rechargeable so I never have to replace batteries.  A good quality mouse may seem expensive, but look at the cost over the life of the mouse.  I use the MX Laser from Logitech.  I have used the same mouse for over eight years, I haven’t bought the first battery and I have used it 40+ hours a week to design literally millions of dollars of trusses.

What can be done with your mouse?  I will tell you how I setup the buttons and you can let your imagination run wild with the possibilities!

  • My first thumb button is assigned to the enter key. I don’t know how many times I hit the enter key in a day, but it is one of the most used commands for many programs.
  • The center thumb button is “F7”. This is the standard ‘zoom all” command for MiTek Structure and Engineering. With a slight move of my thumb I can quickly zoom out.
  • The third thumb button I have made “Ctrl A”. I love this function because it is used as “Select All” in most text boxes, it is used to analyze trusses in engineering, and I have set “Ctrl A” as the short cut for the tape measure tool in Structure. This allows me to open and close the tape measure very easily without having to scroll back and forth for the button. These three buttons can be customized to anything you would like.
  • Moving on to the top of the mouse, I have not changed the functions of the left and right-click. They seem pretty important to the mouse for obvious reasons.
  • The wheel on top is used for zooming in and out in the MiTek software and for scrolling up in down in documents and text.
  • The wheel on top can also be moved left and right and those functions are customizable. For me pushing the button left opens the Elevation View in Structure and Splicing in Engineering. The right turns on and off “view cut” in Structure and opens the “modify bearings” screen in Engineering.
  • The up and down arrows can also be changed. I have bounced around a lot on the functions of these keys and tend to change it up from time to time. Right now I have them assigned to “W” for walls and “P” for planes. Sometimes I have them set for harder to remember short cuts since “W” and “P” are so easy to hit on the keyboard already. All of these keys can be used for anything you want. If you are already big on shortcut keys you know the time that can be saved when you aren’t on a button hunt all the time.

mitek-mouse-settings

If you are searching through your computers settings looking for the window that allows you to set up your mouse buttons you may be missing the software needed to do this.

I use the Setpoint software by Logitech.  This software is free to download from Logitech’s website.  It allows you to change the button functions of your Logitech mouse.  This software may or may not work for non-Logitech hardware.  I wouldn’t know because I have only used it for Logitech hardware.

This program can live in the tray on your taskbar so it is easy to get to and functions can be changed on the go.

logitech-mouse

Setpoint has several other handy functions and notifications, such as:

  • Changing the mouse’s scroll speed
  • Showing a warning when your batteries are low
  • Smart move (my favorite)

Smart move makes your pointer jump to certain buttons when a window pops open.  Some things in MiTek Engineering already do this like some of the floor truss webbing commands.  If you turn this on you will see your mouse jump to the button that needs to be hit and save you time in scrolling.  This is probably one of those love or hate functions.  Some people will think it’s great and some will be enraged by it.  It’s there, so give it a try.  If you don’t like it turn it off.

The mouse you see on top of the mouse pad is my new MX Laser.  I read a lot of reviews before purchasing this newer edition of the mouse I have used for years.  All of the reviews I read have this mouse on the top of the list and it is one of the best on the market for component designers.  There are a lot of mouses (mice?) on the market with multiple functions.  These are made primarily for gamers and you may find one that you prefer over the Laser.  I have had zero problems with mine.  I only whine a little that there are a few less buttons on the top than the old one had on it.  It is very smooth and comfortable and a great tool in my truss designer tool bag.

I would love to hear some feedback on this subject and would like to encourage our readers to comment on how you setup your mouse.  What mouse do you use?  What software do you use to set it up?  So let me hear from you I am always looking for new ways to increase my speed, accuracy, and productivity.

Rick Walker – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.