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Framework History

August 6, 2009
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History of Framework:

  • Framework launched in 1984, was the first office suite to run on the PC 8086 with DOS operating system.
  • An even earlier integrated suite, actually comparable to the original Macintosh of 1984 and Lisa of 1982 was produced by Epson, a complete integrated work station based on the previous Z80 processor and CPM operating system with GUI interface and WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) typography on the monitor and printing.
  • Framework offered all this however in the first all-in-one package to run on any PC platform. It preceded by two years the Lotus equivalent.
  • Framework was not separate products with similar look and feel that could share or import or “plug-in” other modules or files, but was a single workspace construct that could contain any combination of word processor, outliner, mini-database and spreadsheet “frames.” The spreadsheet program was superior in its day, offering true 3D capability, where any cell could be “opened” to reveal a separate spreadsheet — a feat of sheer convenient function never again seen.
  • In 1983 Robert Carr and Marty Mazner founded Forefront Corporation to develop Framework. In July of that year, they approached Ashton-Tate to provide the venture capital and to later market the product. Together with a team of six other individuals, Carr and company released the original Framework. The product proved successful enough that in 1985, Ashton-Tate bought Forefront, a year sooner than planned.
  • Ashton-Tate continued to enhance the product by producing Framework II, Framework III, and finally Framework IV in 1989. Beginning with Framework III, the company also produced Framework III Runtime and Framework III Developer’s Toolkit. These products allowed application developers to create business applications using the internal FRED programming language, and to hide the user interface from the end-users.
  • Ashton-Tate however did not aggressively market Framework compared to its mainstream dBASE product, and it failed to gain more than a fraction of the market share needed to become a workplace standard. As a result Lotus 123 was able to successfully capture both of Ashton-Tate’s product niches and in 1991 Borland bought Ashton-Tate and later sold Framework to Selections & Functions, Inc, who is still actively maintaining it. Present versions include HTML generation and an object oriented interactive rapid application development environment. It also includes a speech recognition capability for visually impaired and blind users.

Versions and where it works:

  • While it remains a DOS program, Framework also works on most versions of Windows. More specifically, Framework 7 (which is still supported) was the last version which can be run on Windows 95/98/ME or on DOS. Framework 8 and 9 only run on Windows XP although they still run in a separate box within WinXP and provide access to DOS functionality such as batch commands.
  • Beginning with Framework V (Framework 5) Selections and Functions gradually began to introduce new features to keep the office suite up-to-date. For example, Framework VII (Framework 7) introduced long file names, the Euro symbol (which didn’t exist when Framework was first written!) and the ability to display PCX graphics files in Framework. It also fixed a timing error in the Framework source code which had previously prevented Framework from running on newer, faster processors. Framework VIII (Framework 8) introduced the ability to display JPEG and .BMP files and to load such files into Framework databases. Of particular importance, all of the Selections and Functions’ versions of Framework added the ability to share “cut and paste” (memory buffer data) between Windows and Framework.

Robert Carr as the designer and principal developer of Framework.

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