Saturday, May 17, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Back in the mid-80s, before Windows was the standard way of using a PC, Ashton-Tate released a ground-breaking DOS program called Framework.
It was an integrated program containing a word processor, spreadsheet, mini-database and (get this) an outliner. A graphic app on a character based machine. A memory-based database built around a scripting language called FRED.
We were friends with Robert Carr and his team, at the time we were working on PC outliners, ThinkTank and Ready, and were in the process of moving to the Mac.
Framework got locked in an industry faceoff with Lotus's Symphony. Borland bought Ashton-Tate, then sold Framework to Selections & Functions, Inc. So Framework still lives.
Selections & Functions is at http://www.fred.com/.
When Frontier for Windows ships, an interesting loop will close. I think current and former users of Framework will find a lot to like in Frontier. We do outlines, text and scripting in a disk-based database and connect it up to the local OS and the Internet.
Framework broke important ground, I think, but more was needed to make the idea really work. It's important to acknowledge our legacy, where our ideas came from (many places!) and Framework is certainly one of them.
PS: The first alpha release of Frontier 5.0 for Windows will probably happen sometime this summer. The release will be public and the software will be free. Frontier has been shipping on the Mac since early 1992.