Glide Write 1.0 beta is a decent Web-based word processor that works best when used within the unique Glide suite. The Glide system is designed to be a secure and seamless environment for working on e-mail, chatting, managing your calendar and contacts, and bookmarking Web pages, as well as for saving and sharing photos, music, and videos.
By forcing users to reveal their true identity during sign-up, the makers of Glide hope to establish a trusted community. Glide demands a credit card number to verify your identity but promises not to charge you a fee unless you pick a paid account. A free Glide account includes only 300MB of storage, not a lot of space if you plan to house many multimedia files. For more breathing room, solo users can pay $4.95 per month for 1.5GB of storage ($49.95 per year) all the way up to $99.95 per year for 4GB of space. Family plans start at $99.95 per year for 3GB for four users, and plans go up to $149.95 annually for 6GB and six users.
In our tests, the Glide setup process took longer than the instant access allowed by ThinkFree and the Zoho Writer beta. Once we gave Glide our credit card digits, we instantly received a confirmation e-mail. However, after we confirmed that message, another Glide note said that our subscription was declined without indicating what the problem was or how to fix it. Nevertheless, we started the registration process from scratch and signed in to Glide within several minutes. (Apparently, we had mistyped our credit card number the first time.)
Once we were in, the Flash- and AJAX-based interface of Glide Effortless took some effort for us to understand; we recommend reading the Getting Started section first. The dark-purple layout is heavy on graphical elements, which are straightforward enough. We like that rolling over the green Home icon links to the main page and displays a drop-down list of tools, but we found it hard to break our keystroke shortcut habits. For example, when we hit the Back button on the keyboard, we returned to the login page rather than the last screen within Glide. You can upload all kinds of content to Glide, which arranges files within Containers that you can tag by topic.
Instead of drop-down menus, Glide organizes key functions within a Bubble icon, which isn't self-explanatory. Once you select a file and roll over the Bubble, you can click the circle's center to move through options for editing, downloading, e-mailing, conferencing, and so on. Glide requires either Firefox 1.5 or Internet Explorer 6; we tried both browsers without detecting a difference.
Colorful buttons along the bottom of the Glide home page link to the system's major tools, such as Glide Calendar, Music, and Video. Clicking Glide Docs brings you to a list of Glide Write files, which you can double-click to mark with a topical tag and mark as child-safe or for adults only, as well as view the metadata. Opening an existing Write file with the Bubble or starting a new document brings up a new browser window, à la the Google Writely beta. However, we prefer Zoho Writer's tabbed organization. The Glide Write 1.0 beta composition windows lacks the navigational Bubble and instead resembles other online word processors, with drop-down menus that offer editing and formatting options above four rows of features with familiar icons. Luckily, we were able to use keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl+S to save our work.
Glide Write offers 20 fonts, enough for basic but uninspired text editing. Emoticons and special characters are also available. It's a snap to add a table, a hyperlink, or numbered or bulleted points. Glide Write lets you import HTML, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, RTF, and Pages documents. The importing process is clunky, however, as we could only access that from the Glide Docs page and not the Glide Write composition window. But we liked that when we pasted text from Word into Glide Write 1.0 beta, Glide detected the source and let us clean up funky formatting.