Web Presentation Apps: Glide Outshines Google
Google's new presentation software, touted as a Web-based alternative to Microsoft's PowerPoint, is an easy-to-use product with a nifty interface and impressive collaboration features, but its omission of several important functions makes it a runner-up to Transmedia's Web-based application, Glide Presenter 2.0.
Residing under the Google Docs umbrella of online office applications, Google's presentation program works on Internet Explorer and Firefox. It lacks support for Safari and Opera, however, and it includes only the most basic tools for creating and sharing slide shows.
Google's presentation app comes with six templates and one-click formatting options for tinkering with text and images within slides. It is nicely laid out, with the individual slides down the left pane and a central window showing the contents of the slide you're working on. Along the top are clearly marked icons for adding/removing slides and inserting images and text.
Once you have created a presentation, the software's real-time collaboration--its killer feature--kicks in. The app is connected to Google Calendar, to Gmail, and to Google Talk; clicking the 'Share' button brings up a screen that allows you to invite viewers or collaborators. Clicking the 'Start presentation' button opens your slide show along with a chat window that integrates with Google Talk.
Power users will be disappointed in several respects, however. Though Google's app will import a PowerPoint file from your desktop, it won't export it in PowerPoint's .ppt or OpenOffice's .odp (open document) format. It offers no transitions, sounds, or effects such as bouncing text and fading animations. You can't draw shapes, make arrows, or design your own templates. Although you can upload images from your PC, even that is a chore because you must do so one at a time.
Glide Presenter 2.0 from Transmedia outclasses Google's offering in more ways than one. Though the interface is a tad cluttered and page loads can sometimes be slow, the program lives in a collaborative ecosystem (called Glide OS 2.0) that matches Google's. You can invite others to view and collaborate on your presentations via e-mail, over instant messaging, and from your contact list. Unlike Google, which lets you share your work only with other Google users, Glide has no such limitations on participation.
The Glide Presenter application opens in a full-screen browser window (Adobe's Flash Player is required) and features clearly marked menu items across the top. From the main screen, you can add slides with a click and import videos from the management system, which Glide hosts. Unlike Google's presentation app, Glide lets you upload multiple images or audio/video files at once, and large media files can stream within presentations, even on low-bandwidth mobile devices.
Whereas Google enables only text and images in presentations and provides no support for exporting presentations to other formats, Glide lets you save and serve presentations on a variety of platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux machines are supported), as well as save and convert presentations to PowerPoint format or PDF. In my tests, a Glide-created presentation converted to PDF without a glitch.
The simplicity, interactivity, and unlimited free storage of Google Docs' presentation component will appeal to many people, but for power users it falls short. By comparison, Glide has covered all the bases with a compelling software offering that could emerge as a true Web-based replacement for Microsoft PowerPoint.
Google Docs (Presentations)
Easy-to-use software is likely to disappoint power users.
Transmedia Glide Presenter 2.0
Impressive program could be a true PowerPoint replacement.