As you may have noticed if you’ve read a few of my articles, I tend to gravitate to new technologies, whether they be RSS and Podcasts, or else the new wave of web-based applications. Products such as Google Docs, Zoho Writer, and the like get me excited about software. We used to hear so much about how a paperless office was just around the corner, and that certainly hasn’t happened. But with the advent of high speed, always-on Internet connections, I can see a day where the idea of an office that runs completely on software stored not on a central server, but instead downloaded from the Internet, might not sound so crazy.
I recently stumbled on a new word processor / office suite, named Glide. Glide is currently available for free, although it was not clear if that will always be the case. Regardless, Glide (currently in beta), probably has more functional online applications in one spot than I’ve seen attempted by any other group, except the possible exception of the Ajax 13 applications.
In addition to the standard word processor, which I’m using to write this review, Glide also includes a presentation program, a calculator, email client, address book, photo editor, calendar/appointment application, website creator, blog editor, chat client, and also places to store your documents, music, photos and videos. In addition, Glide has tiny applets available for tracking RSS feeds, weather information, and a music player, all available in the same window.
Glide takes the desktop analogy seriously, treating the open browser window as your computer’s desktop. You can create multiple open word processing documents, each in their own window, just as would be the case if using a standard word processor like Microsoft Word. Each open document has its own menu system, and because of this, flipping back and forth between documents is as simple as it would be with a program like Word. No need to save a document in order to open a new one, as with Google Docs (and most online word processors).
Unfortunately, like most online word processors, Glide Write (as the word processor is known), does not pay much attention to the niceties offered by regular word processors. There is no option to view the document in page layout and although you are able to insert page breaks, you can’t see those page breaks realized, unless you export the document to a format which handles them. I suppose I should be used to shortcomings like this, since nearly every online word processor (with the notable exception of Think Free Office Online), treats a document as a draft, and not a final product.
Aside from this, I’m quite impressed with the number and quality of tools available from this beta product. Glide Write is capable of handling graphics, symbols, advanced formatting, tables… pretty much anything not related to page formatting (such as headers and footers), appears to be supported. I was unable (well, not really interested, to be honest), in trying out every single feature, since my word processing needs don’t really advance all that much), but I can say that the spell checker, link inserter and formatting all work correctly, and the short auditions I gave to other formatting and insertion tools seemed to work quite well.
Being that Glide Write is part of an online suite, and the Internet is all about sharing, it is unsurprising that Glide Write makes sharing documents a priority, and I have to say it takes an interesting approach. Instead of the “standard” sharing options, such as emailing it to a friend, Glide wants to include all my friends (which are known as my Glide Buddies). How it works in sharing a document is I grab my Glide Buddies’ email addresses from my address book and they are sent an email, included in which is an address where they can access my great work of genius. I much prefer the integrated Google way, where I write my Google Doc, and then click a button to use Gmail to email it as an attachment, but in my trial it seemed effective.
As far as other export options, Glide Write fared okay. It is able to export to Microsoft Word, PDF, or Rich Text, and all worked fine, as far as I could tell. One thing that is nice is that Glide Write’s default save format is actually to HTML, so if you’re writing something for the web, you’re all set to go.
I’m not convinced that Glide Office is the way things WILL be, but it sure seems like a step in the right direction. Glide requires that Flash 9 be installed, and although every program is Flash-based, it seemed quick and responsive, and because of the Flash, quite attractive as well. I’m not sure that Glide Write is my favorite online word processor (the integration shared between Google Docs and Gmail is wonderful, as is the power of its simplicity), but it definitely worked to write this review, and I suppose that’s all I could ask of it!