Some History

Pedigree/Draw was first developed as a Macintosh application in 1987 in the Population Genetics Laboratory at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio, Texas. Under the direction of Drs. Bennett Dyke and Jean MacCluer, I was assigned the project of building an application to diagram the extended pedigrees of human and non-human populations being studied for various biomedical and genetic research projects in the Department of Genetics. Several collaborators contributed to the project, and we benefitted from the availability of new computing technology with the horsepower and capacity to handle larger and more complex population data sets. We chose the Macintosh as the most suitable platform for the project, given the sophistication of its graphical interface and printing capabilities, and general ease-of-use. In the ensuing years, the program was made available free-to-charge to the international scientific community and anyone else with access to the World-Wide Web. Over that time, the program was downloaded a few thousand times, and applied to endeavors such as genetic counseling, animal husbandry and colony management, linkage analysis, epidemiology studies, and genealogical research, to name a few.

In 2003, with the retirement of Dr. Bennett Dyke and the completion of grant-funded projects under his supervision, support for the continued development of Pedigree/Draw in the Department of Genetics at SFBR came to an end. Given the ongoing demand for the program, I was encouraged to acquire the rights to Pedigree/Draw, and to create this website as a way to keep it alive. Although there are several excellent genealogy programs available for Windows and Macintosh computers, most focus on human family history research; not many provide features useful in genetic and other biomedical research involving both human and non-human populations.

Since Pedigree/Draw for OS 9 was designed originally for use in analyzing population data gathered in the course of various projects undertaken by scientists at SFBR, the development priorities for the program were determined by the requirements of the researchers using it; several requested features remained on a “to do” list. Consequently, while Pedigree/Draw 5.1 continues to run in Classic 9 mode under new editions of OS X, its intrinsic capabilities have not been updated, and its behavior in the OS X environment is occasionally erratic. Moving the code base to OS X provides a starting point for an expansion of the program's feature set, and the means to take advantage of new capabilities in OS X to address some of its limitations.

Back to the Present

Pedigree-Draw 6 for OS X is now available as a modestly-priced commercial application, with the proceeds to be used to fund its continued development and to support this website. The main goal in developing Version 6 was to complete the rather complex transition to OS X, to resolve known defects in Version 5.1, and to provide some evolutionary new features to aid the migration of current users and their data sets to the OS X environment. New features to be implemented in future versions include improved haplotype display, interactive diagram editing, expanded attribute symbol notation, tabular display of pedigree records, improved support for large data sets and diagram displays, more flexibility in controlling diagram style characteristics, and improvements in the mapping algorithm for handling deeply complex familial relationships. Since the market for this application class is somewhat limited, the returns aren't likely to be especially lucrative, but perhaps enough to allow us to continue to provide Pedigree-Draw to the biomedical research community, and to anyone interested in studying their ancestors.

Paul Mamelka (paul at pedigree-draw dot com)

Jurek Software
Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Updated 28 Apr 2007