The steadily increasing quality of hard- and software enables the development of more and more sophisticated groupware. However, modern distributed systems and distributed multimedia systems in particular challenge the abilities of groupware manufacturers, due to the complexity involved in the development of those systems. Frameworks for collaborative environments might provide a solution to these problems, helping to reduce complexity in groupware development by provision of suitable software components. This article will identify the demands and requirements of distributed (multimedia) systems and their human users that frameworks have to take into account. The article then introduces the HOUCOM framework for collaborative environments and sketches the employment of this framework in a sample scenario.