Mozilla Kills The PDF Plugin In Firefox 19

    January 11, 2013

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.