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.
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. For detailed feature lists and screen shots see the Framework homepage listed below.
Programmers at Work (ISBN 0-914845-71-3) credits Robert Carr as the designer and principal developer of Framework.