Mozilla Kills The PDF Plugin In Firefox 19

    January 11, 2013
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

We just got Firefox 18 earlier this week, but Mozilla already has its sights set on the future. That future is one devoid of PDF plugins, like Adobe Acrobat Reader, that could harbor dangerous security flaws. Instead, the non-profit will continue pushing HTML5 in the new year.

Mozilla announced today that Firefox 19, which is currently in beta, will have a new PDF reader called PDF.js. The .js extension should tip you off that the new reader is built in JavaScript and HTML5. The idea is that the new PDF reader will be more secure than “proprietary closed source code.” Here’s all the details:

For a number of years there have been several plugins for viewing PDF’s within Firefox. Many of these plugins come with proprietary closed source code that could potentially expose users to security vulnerabilities. PDF viewing plugins also come with extra code to do many things that Firefox already does well with no proprietary code, such as drawing images and text. These problems, and the desire to push the boundaries of the HTML5 platform, led Andreas Gal and Chris Jones to start a research project they named PDF.js. The project quickly picked up steam within Mozilla Labs, where it grew into a full-fledged PDF viewer.

Today, the PDF.js project clearly shows that HTML5 and JavaScript are now powerful enough to create applications that could previously have only been created as native applications. Not only do most PDF’s load and render quickly, they run securely and have an interface that feels at home in the browser. As an added benefit of using standard HTML5 API’s, the PDF viewer is capable of running on many platforms (PC’s, tablet, mobile) and even different browsers. Last, performance will only get better as JavaScript engines and rendering performance continue to improve in browsers.

Mozilla Kills PDF Plugins In Firefox 19

PDJ.js is now available in Firefox 19, but it’s still in beta so bugs may be present. To that end, Mozilla encourages beta users to file bug reports if they run into any problems. The developers want to get PDF.js into the release version of Firefox, and plenty of bug reports will help them polish it up for release six weeks from now.

As for developers, you can help contribute to the project by visiting the PDF.js github page. It would be an excellent opportunity to work in more advanced HTML5 projects.

  • http://www.frogdice.com Michael Hartman

    PDFs on the web have always been an ugly beast.

    From hanging browsers, to crashing browsers, to crashing computers, they have always been a mess.

    They are still useful as a document format for other purposes, but for the web they are a disaster.

    Its good to see firefox separating them out and sandboxing them a bit.

    Firefox desperately needs to improve though in many other ways. It crashes. Its slow. Its laggy. It chokes on video. They haven’t had a good version since the 2.xxx chain. I’d really like to see them become a viable alternative to chrome.

    • chris

      What a load of nonsense. I use Firefox (always the latest version) across several devices (including tablets) and the speed and stability is on par (and often better) than Chrome.

  • stilian

    @Michael Hartman, I’ve been using Firefox for some time, on version 18 at the moment, I’m using it on a cheap laptop running Win 8 64bit, AMD A6 processor and 6gb ram, it never crashes, it’s not slow or buggy
    It’s not 2006 anymore, Firefox has improved considerably, but we still get the same lie peddled on so many blogs.

    The main reason I don’t use Chrome, I’m fed up with it being bundled in so many freeware installations, basically if you miss one tick you end up with Chrome on your machine. Plus it’s so difficult to uninstall, on both Win 7 64bit and on Win 8 64bit from experience, everytime you try and uninstall Chrome it “pretends” to uninstall, as soon as you check your programs list, it’s still there. The only way I’ve ever been able to get rid of Chrome is to manually remove the entry from my programs list and then manually delete all the junk files it leaves behind, it behaves just like junkware.

    With Firefox… no rubbish like that, you’re never hoodwinked into an installation, people who choose Firefox do so precisely because of choice, that matters.

  • lorrenz_26

    It sucks, my website which generates PDF reports using fpdf cannot display in firefox because of that. Working on chrome and if i use adobe as default view for mozilla.