Poor Performance Sinks Web-Based FlySuite

August 24, 2006

By Edward N. Albro

No company has produced a Web-based office application that works flawlessly. But FlySuite, a Java-based word processor and spreadsheet combination, is so far from perfect that even some neat collaboration tricks don’t make it worth recommending.

FlySuite makes its pitch as a good way to work with far-flung partners. You can e-mail files from within the applications to your recipients, who don’t need a copy of FlySuite–when they open the attachments, the FlySuite application also opens automatically. You can limit the ability of recipients to edit, save, or print your files. You can also make files inaccessible after a certain date. The suite’s $39 price also includes one year’s use of 1GB of online storage.

I found significant glitches, though. During a few attempts to open a document I’d e-mailed to myself, the application kept opening a blank document instead. I’d close the blank document and another would open, ad infinitum, until I closed the application entirely. (After I mentioned the problem, the company said it was releasing a fix.) Another document, which I e-mailed to myself and then e-mailed back to the original computer, came through the process mangled with lots of inserted hieroglyphics.

Basic features were no better. FlyWord had significant problems opening Microsoft Word documents. Documents with revisions would show up as a nonsensical mess with both the revisions and the original text displayed together without any distinguishing formatting. FlyWord also had trouble with anything beyond simple formatting: Page headers would show up at the bottom of a previous page, and images would repeat over and over.

The basic FlySuite spreadsheet program was also frustrating. You can’t copy a formula from one cell to multiple other cells using cut and paste functions. (There is a way to perform the function, but it’s not documented in FlySuite’s help.) There’s also no way to chart your data, though the company said that functionality would be added in an update.

Unless you really need some of FlySuite’s attachment protections, you’re better off using other online office apps like the free ThinkFree Office.


About FlySuite

FlySuite is a low-priced combination of a disk-based Java application on your hard drive and an online service that lets you create, open, and store up to 1GB of Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and share them with anyone with access to e-mail and a Web browser. The suite is plagued by annoying bugs, clumsy design, and a tendency to destroy endnotes and other features in documents imported from Microsoft Office. Still it does offer a unique set of features that may exactly match your needs—if you can live with the flaws.

FlySuite comprises the FlyWord word processor and FlyCalc spreadsheet; a FlySlide presentations program will be added this fall. When you click a button on FlySuite’s Web site, a tiny (650KB) download automatically installs the FlyWord and FlyCalc programs on your hard drive. (The Java Run-Time environment must already be installed.)

The programs cost nothing to use if you save files on your drive. Registered users pay either $29 for permanent use of 1GB of online storage with either FlyWord or FlyCalc or $39 for a total of 1GB of storage for use with both programs. Registered users can save multiple versions of a file when saving online or locally and can grant registered or nonregistered users access to online files, with options to grant or refuse editing rights. Only one user can edit a file at the same time. An option lets you receive an alert when someone else opens your file, and a chat window opens so you exchange notes.

FlyWord and FlyCalc look and feel like stripped-down versions of Word and Excel. If you’re looking to do just basic word processing and low-impact spread-sheet functions, the apps are reasonably functional. But don’t expect Office-style flexibility. For example, once you create a header in a FlyWord document, you can’t edit the header ever again. The programs save files only in old Microsoft Office 97 formats; this is fine up to a point, as Office 97 formats are almost universally supported by other applications, including all later versions of Office. Be wary, however, of opening files created in any Office version—you might not like what happens to your data. For example, when FlyWord opens a Word file, it strips out footnote numbers (but leaves the footnotes themselves intact) and entirely eliminates endnotes. If you save the file in FlyWord and open it again in Word, you’ll find odd-looking right-angle symbols where footnote numbers used to be.

Perhaps fortunately, complex Word documents and Excel spreadsheets won’t open at all in FlySuite. Other annoyances include nonsense characters that get into your file if you press the Alt key and an installation hardwired to put the software into the root directory of drive C even if you want it to be somewhere else. And don’t even think of running it on a Macintosh.

FlySuite is not a perfect app, but it’s easy to imagine that in a pinch it might be useful to geographically challenged workers or collaborators on a strict budget. I can’t recommend it for general use yet, but I’m interested to see how it evolves.

(from PC Magazine, July 2006)

Work on the Fly…

Working with others becomes easy !

With FlySuite applications, you create or open full-featured Word documents & Excel spreadsheets (Microsoft format). You can share your online documents or send offline copies to the people you want to work with.

Your collaborators don’t need any software to view or edit your work, because FlySuite is automatically and freely launched when they open your files.

You can be alerted in real-time when a collaborator opens your document and start a conference chat in FlySuite applications

Working from different places becomes easy !

You can start in a few seconds on any computer a set of full-featured office applications: word processor and spreadsheet on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and UNIX.

At your office, at home or in an Internet cafe, you access and edit your documents stored on FlySuite servers (1GB).

You can also use the applications Offline and save your documents on your computer or on any other storages.

Secure your work !

When you invite collaborators to share a document or when you send copies, you can restrict permissions for each user.

You can choose if your collaborator can edit, save, save copies, print, copy/paste your document and you can set an expiration date.

You can save every edit of a document and roll back to any version.

Collaborative work in FlySuite

Send Offline copies

You can create copies of your work that freely launch FlySuite, so your collaborators don’t need any other office software to work with you.
These “self opening files” can be sent as email attachments or distributed in any ways and can be saved anywhere: on your PC, on your collaborators’ PC or on any online storage.

You can restrict permissions for each file (edit, save, copy, print)

Share Online files

You can invite anyone to work online with you on a file by sending an email. Your collaborators access your document stored on your 1GB online storage and FlySuite is automatically launched to open or edit the file.

You can manage a list of users who can access a document and you restrict permissions for each user (edit, save, copy, print).

(From http://www.FlySuite.com )