Mozilla developing Firefox PDF renderer

Anyone that wishes to access a PDF file on an internet browser probably finds that the plugin that loads the file is Adobe Reader. But how about if, using HTML5 code and Javascript, you could view the PDF file directly in the browser without needing a third party plugin? That's what Mozilla has been quietly but surely working on.

For around a month so far, on what the developers are calling pdf.js, they've been developing the piece of code quite openly over at GitHub with the purpose of creating something that renders the files fast. You can try out the still work-in-progress reader yourself; the developers claim that they were not planning on releasing details for awhile, but decided to do so on the basis of the amount of interest shown in their work.

While it will be a few months before technical users can start to use the PDF feature, this could be seen by some as a fundamental change in what Firefox can do and features the casual user might come to expect from internet browsers as a whole. By having a native PDF renderer, internet surfers do not have to worry about drops in usability and the threat of security exploits. Mozilla has said themselves that the pdf.js uses only safe web languages and doesn't contain code which could be exploited by others.

The exact features of the native renderer have yet to be revealed, but it will be interesting to see how this story develops and whether Mozilla will use the opportunity to shift Adobe Reader and other third party programs to only advanced/business users.

Image Source: geeksucks.com

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Huh? This is a bit misleading. No one said that it will be used in Firefox for opening PDF files. It could do one day, but I think it's original intention was for it to be used in add-ons and Web apps.

I'd rather see PDF support in the OS default image viewer similar to how Preview in OSX opens PDFs nicely. I've never liked PDFs inside the browser window but do hate Adobe's crapware.

Adobe Reader's plugin for various browser totally sucks at downloading PDFs. It hangs lots of times when the PDF is partially downloaded, doesn't show status properly most of the times and when we close the tab with the PDF, the Adobe Reader process doesn't exit. So the more browsers render PDF natively the better.

FireFox took a major step backward from 3.6.16 when they "improved" it with 4.0. The version crashed frequently, and this is with just one or two tabs open!

It is good to hear that Firefox is developing an alternative to Adobe for reading PDF file. However...before going there, Mozilla has to get FireFox 4.0 more stable. I'm tired of the frequent crashes with 4.0. It seems Mozilla was chose flash over substance. 3.6.16 was much more solid.

TsarNikky said,
It is good to hear that Firefox is developing an alternative to Adobe for reading PDF file. However...before going there, Mozilla has to get FireFox 4.0 more stable. I'm tired of the frequent crashes with 4.0. It seems Mozilla was chose flash over substance. 3.6.16 was much more solid.

It is stable.. see if it's any of extensions your using, 2. try updating your plugins. 3. if all else fails try starting with a clean profile.

Just to see PDFs, I certainly prefer my small/light program "SumatraPDF". No extra plugins inside my browser, no extra code, like they will do, also.

Why to make heavier the browser? Anyway. Really don't mind much.

I agree they should have a built in PDF reader but tbf, ive just found an extension for this feature so Im not missing out

This is why I love Mozilla. They just keep coming out with great features. I could definitely see this catching on.

Flawed said,
This is why I love Mozilla. They just keep coming out with great features. I could definitely see this catching on.
Firefox has the best combination of simplicity and features IMHO. Though I would like to see Mozilla improve Firefox's memory usage a bit more.

MS Lose32 said,
Firefox has the best combination of simplicity and features IMHO. Though I would like to see Mozilla improve Firefox's memory usage a bit more.

Features, yes. Simplicity....eh....I don't really know. Firefox is the only browser I know that still gives you trouble when you want to change the default search engine provider to something other than Google. It also still has a seperate box for searches (unlike IE9 or Chrome), despite the address bar working for searches, too. Seems redundant if you ask me.
In all fairness I'd say that it's a tie between Chrome and IE9 in terms of simplicity. There's just so little to worry about on both interfaces that I have to take the design teams' words when they say that they designed their browser to be a "stage" for the Web.
That being said, give Firefox one or two versions more of a chance and I think that it will be pretty evenly matched with IE9 and Chrome in terms of simplicity and elegance.

Good news for geeks. 99% of the Joes and Janes out there don't give a sweet <favorite word here> whether PDFs render in an Adobe plug-in or in a built-in HTML5 renderer.

Personally I hate all browser built-in PDF renderers I've seen, as I find all their UI awkward for rotating, zooming etc. stuff I need (compared to Reader).

Breach said,
Good news for geeks. 99% of the Joes and Janes out there don't give a sweet <favorite word here> whether PDFs render in an Adobe plug-in or in a built-in HTML5 renderer.

Personally I hate all browser built-in PDF renderers I've seen, as I find all their UI awkward for rotating, zooming etc. stuff I need (compared to Reader).

Nuff' Said'

Breach said,
Good news for geeks. 99% of the Joes and Janes out there don't give a sweet <favorite word here> whether PDFs render in an Adobe plug-in or in a built-in HTML5 renderer.

Personally I hate all browser built-in PDF renderers I've seen, as I find all their UI awkward for rotating, zooming etc. stuff I need (compared to Reader).

So you have some kind of report or stats that detail 99% of people could care less? If not, then you are talking out of your ass. Whether it will be adopted is a diff story as there are already PDF viewers for FF. I mean, this is a browser viewer not a normal desktop view. Why load up Adobe Arcobat of FoxIT and then the FF plugin while Adobe and Foxit have their own.

I for one, never had an issue with PDF readers or plugins for browsers. Always worked great for me and everyone else I know.

techbeck said,

So you have some kind of report or stats that detail 99% of people could care less? If not, then you are talking out of your ass. Whether it will be adopted is a diff story as there are already PDF viewers for FF. I mean, this is a browser viewer not a normal desktop view. Why load up Adobe Arcobat of FoxIT and then the FF plugin while Adobe and Foxit have their own.

I for one, never had an issue with PDF readers or plugins for browsers. Always worked great for me and everyone else I know.

Well the snapshot tool in the adobe reader is very handy for work and I have yet to see this is a PDF reader such as chromes one.

Good... that means I can delete another clunky program from my computer.

And hurry up with Html5 already. Flash is so horrible. Adobe shouldn't be allowed to make internet technology. They cause so much pain!

Tpiom said,
Good... that means I can delete another clunky program from my computer.

And hurry up with Html5 already. Flash is so horrible. Adobe shouldn't be allowed to make internet technology. They cause so much pain!


It's sad how they screwed up Macromedia's work so bad! >_>
Flash will remain an important part of the web for years to come (legacy reasons), but I'd like to see HTML5 arrive in all its glory rather sooner than later!

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

It's sad how they screwed up Macromedia's work so bad! >_>
Flash will remain an important part of the web for years to come (legacy reasons), but I'd like to see HTML5 arrive in all its glory rather sooner than later!

GS:mac

Same.

Tpiom said,
Good... that means I can delete another clunky program from my computer.

And hurry up with Html5 already. Flash is so horrible. Adobe shouldn't be allowed to make internet technology. They cause so much pain!

Arent HTML5 blockers harder to build then Flash? tbh i dont have any probs with Flash.

If HTML5 is default we also will have HTML5 Ads spam.

Glassed Silver said,

It's sad how they screwed up Macromedia's work so bad! >_>
Flash will remain an important part of the web for years to come (legacy reasons), but I'd like to see HTML5 arrive in all its glory rather sooner than later!

GS:mac

normally what happens.

Netscape = AOL owned sucked
McAfee = Network Associates owned sucked
Norton AV = Symantec owned sucked

There are many more like this, but you get the general idea.

Tpiom said,
Good... that means I can delete another clunky program from my computer.

And hurry up with Html5 already. Flash is so horrible. Adobe shouldn't be allowed to make internet technology. They cause so much pain!

HTML5 exist already. Many of the browsers does not incorporate ALL the functionality of HTML5 but still, most of the current browsers have HTML5. HTML is HTML. The number 5 only signify the which web site is using the HTML5 codes. Many of the web sites using semi-HTML5 codes as they don't really work with the old browsers. The adoption of HTML5 is not yet widespread because of the browser developers and the site developers. So good news to you, HTML5 is already there. You have to use the latest browser to view sites that endorse it's usage.

Glassed Silver said,

It's sad how they screwed up Macromedia's work so bad! >_>
Flash will remain an important part of the web for years to come (legacy reasons), but I'd like to see HTML5 arrive in all its glory rather sooner than later!

GS:mac

Amen brother!

In-browser PDF is something that really needs to be standardized. You have Adobe Reader and a number of other readers that work in Firefox and Internet Explorer; meanwhile, Safari uses Apple's PDF reader on the Mac, and Chrome uses its own (terrible) PDF plugin, too. And on OS X, Firefox will (by default) just download the PDF.

I don't know if this is a step in the right direction, or a step away from it.

Simon said,
In-browser PDF is something that really needs to be standardized. You have Adobe Reader and a number of other readers that work in Firefox and Internet Explorer; meanwhile, Safari uses Apple's PDF reader on the Mac, and Chrome uses its own (terrible) PDF plugin, too. And on OS X, Firefox will (by default) just download the PDF.

I don't know if this is a step in the right direction, or a step away from it.


This

Simon said,
In-browser PDF is something that really needs to be standardized. You have Adobe Reader and a number of other readers that work in Firefox and Internet Explorer; meanwhile, Safari uses Apple's PDF reader on the Mac, and Chrome uses its own (terrible) PDF plugin, too. And on OS X, Firefox will (by default) just download the PDF.

I don't know if this is a step in the right direction, or a step away from it.

I love how INCREDIBLY messy the PDF reader in chrome is.

max22 said,
Nice! Go Mozilla! Now just do the same thing for Flash!

They won't need to. HTML5 is going to kill a lot of the use of Flash on the web on its own.

metal_dragen said,

They won't need to. HTML5 is going to kill a lot of the use of Flash on the web on its own.

Yea... when exactly?

metal_dragen said,

They won't need to. HTML5 is going to kill a lot of the use of Flash on the web on its own.

Flash: h264
HTML5: almost no support for h264

Flash: fast Vector Animation
HTML5: ...

Flash: we are fast and we ain't using your GPU much
HTML5: we are OK in speed and we abuse your GPU to get that fast

Udedenkz said,

Flash: h264
HTML5: almost no support for h264

Flash: fast Vector Animation
HTML5: ...

Flash: we are fast and we ain't using your GPU much
HTML5: we are OK in speed and we abuse your GPU to get that fast

Wow.. It shows that you've done a lot of research to compare those 3 functions.

ZenVenT said,

Yea... when exactly?


Well, Adobe already helps with that. I'm very excited about the upcoming feature in Flash that they showcased and will be able to publish the whole movie/animation into HTML5. From the demo it looked really smooth.

max22 said,
Nice! Go Mozilla! Now just do the same thing for Flash!

they cant do that, because the best plugin for Flash is Adobe, and the only thing they can do is follow Chrome and implement it into the browser.. but i doubt that will happen.. the new browsers rely on HTML5 and soon Flash will be an old story, so you wouldnt have to worry about it

Udedenkz said,

Flash: h264
HTML5: almost no support for h264

Flash: fast Vector Animation
HTML5: ...

Flash: we are fast and we ain't using your GPU much
HTML5: we are OK in speed and we abuse your GPU to get that fast


I must say that, although I dislike Flash, your post is genuinely inaccurate and factually incorrect. Here's my counter:

Flash: h264
HTML5: almost no support for h264

What are you on? HTML5 browsers have large support for H.264. Examples are IE, Safari, and even Google Chrome still has support. Only Firefox, Opera, and negligable browsers don't have H.264 support. Besides, as high-quality as I think H.264 is, I agree that there should be an open standard of video playing over the web. I like the concept that Google is putting into WebM, but for me it seems like the quality just doesn't match up to H.264 in any way. Plus, I'm not too happy with Google pushing another standard that they help to maintain. I'd rather a more trustworthy company/organization push a standard, such as Mozilla or Microsoft or even Apple, rather than Google doing this to add on to their whole secret "take over the internet and then the world" plan that's been going on since Android's release...


Flash: fast Vector Animation
HTML5: ...

This one you're just dead wrong on. I can give you at least two, well-implemented, cross-platform standards that have to do with fast vector animation: SVG and Canvas. SVG is really good for images and art, while Canvas is extremely nice for high-profile, high-quality rendering with complex lines, curves, shapes, custom shapes, and text APIs. I've been able to successfully create a cross-browser video player running solely on HTML5 Javascript + Canvas with these good APIs. In my opinion, Canvas clearly kills Flash, and could be the main factor in Flash's downfall. There are even new APIs in the works for 3D contexts, which will definitely make Flash look even more obsolete.


Flash: we are fast and we ain't using your GPU much
HTML5: we are OK in speed and we abuse your GPU to get that fast

Eh... I have to agree with you on that one here. Apple loves to claim that Flash is a CPU hog, but I've seen HTML5 demos, especially Canvas ones, on web pages that have been able to seriously halt a modern browser like Firefox 4, Google Chrome, and definitely Safari. Internet Explorer 9+ for some reason seems to fare well against intense Canvas + Javascript processing, though. That's one of the reasons why I stick to it over all other browsers. There needs to be a more CPU-friendly way of browsers rendering HTML5, though. I have confidence that this will change in the future with more refined and superior browsers hitting the ground in the coming months/years.

Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

I really like chrome, I love the minimalist design behind it and such, but I do find that Firefox is more customisable and that's why I stick with it. Chrome has some great plugins, but Firefox's addons are much more extensive and (I believe, but could be wrong about this) Firefox's APIs allow extension developers to do much more than Chrome's do.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

There's nothing slow about the latest Firefox. Saying things about software you haven't tried yet isn't really contributing anything.

Capric0rn said,

There's nothing slow about the latest Firefox. Saying things about software you haven't tried yet isn't really contributing anything.

He is probably on a low end system such as netbook or a $400-600 notebook.
I have two low-end systems (one can only run the Witcher on lowest settings for example).

On both systems FF4 to FF7a are much slower than Iron 12 (Chrome 12 derivative).

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

I've moved back to Firefox from Chromium, on my PC there performance is pretty much the same

Capric0rn said,

There's nothing slow about the latest Firefox. Saying things about software you haven't tried yet isn't really contributing anything.

I would not say painful browser but it is true that Firefox 4 isn't much good (IMO, TESTED), it may have improved compared to previous version but it starts up slow, hangs/freezes on loading simple pages, and I'm sick and tired of seeing "Not responding" on Firefox (No Addon). I switched from Firefox 4 to Chrome and I'm loving it, though I do miss few things from Firefox which would have made Chrome perfect FOR ME.

Udedenkz said,

He is probably on a low end system such as netbook or a $400-600 notebook.
I have two low-end systems (one can only run the Witcher on lowest settings for example).

On both systems FF4 to FF7a are much slower than Iron 12 (Chrome 12 derivative).

On low-end systems Chrome would be equally bad. Chrome is a memory hog because of the use of independent processes, not that it is a bad thing though. I love what Google are doing with Chrome, however, I value my privacy more than that, and, hence, I stick with Firefox.

Kushan said,

I really like chrome, I love the minimalist design behind it and such, but I do find that Firefox is more customisable and that's why I stick with it. Chrome has some great plugins, but Firefox's addons are much more extensive and (I believe, but could be wrong about this) Firefox's APIs allow extension developers to do much more than Chrome's do.


Mmm I'd only ONLY choose FF for the addons but Chrome Extension gallery is always expanding and it will eventually be as good.
Chrome for me on every computer runs significantly faster than most of the other browsers...
I would never return to IE.

Feeling the exact opposite with Aurora; pretty much can't tell the difference between it or Chromium either way in speed. Throw in Firefox's much better addons/flexibility and a UI that's actually usable.. no thanks. Haven't seen Firefox hang in forever, not sure what you're doing there. Haven't used Chromium aside from the odd "does it suck less yet" test off and on for a while now, don't miss it.

Max Norris said,
Feeling the exact opposite with Aurora; pretty much can't tell the difference between it or Chromium either way in speed. Throw in Firefox's much better addons/flexibility and a UI that's actually usable.. no thanks. Haven't seen Firefox hang in forever, not sure what you're doing there. Haven't used Chromium aside from the odd "does it suck less yet" test off and on for a while now, don't miss it.

An UI actually usable ? If you can't find your way throught Chrome (Even Jesus knows how easy it is) you got a problem dude. Firefox has been a Great Browser, time has change.

Udedenkz said,

He is probably on a low end system such as netbook or a $400-600 notebook.
I have two low-end systems (one can only run the Witcher on lowest settings for example).

On both systems FF4 to FF7a are much slower than Iron 12 (Chrome 12 derivative).


Could be that. But from what I can read in his post he just never really gave the latest Firefox a chance nor even installed it.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Lots of people use it and care. Just because you dont, doesnt mean its not worth it. And making a comment about software you have not used is just plain ignorant. FF 4 works great for me and the dozens of machines I put it on. The extension, theme, and other support is why I stick with FF.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

I find Firefox a lot much better and faster than Chrome, and I don't use any add-on on it

I know firefox 3.* was a piece of crap, I have used Chrome that time but Firefox 4+ kick ass right now!

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Good for you, now dont talk and let those who are interested to do it

boumboqc said,
An UI actually usable ? If you can't find your way throught Chrome (Even Jesus knows how easy it is) you got a problem dude. Firefox has been a Great Browser, time has change.

Read it again. Note that I said usable, not easy. Chromium's is too dumbed down to the point of being barely useful at all, along with a severe lack of decent customization and flexibility.

Udedenkz said,
He is probably on a low end system such as netbook or a $400-600 notebook.

My WEI is 7.9 across the board and Firefox takes 3 seconds to start up (literally 1000% slower than Chrome).

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Chrome is completely awful. It's so minimalistic and they hide all configs into special pages and so many basic features are missing that it's unusable.

MaSx said,

I would not say painful browser but it is true that Firefox 4 isn't much good (IMO, TESTED), it may have improved compared to previous version but it starts up slow, hangs/freezes on loading simple pages, and I'm sick and tired of seeing "Not responding" on Firefox (No Addon). I switched from Firefox 4 to Chrome and I'm loving it, though I do miss few things from Firefox which would have made Chrome perfect FOR ME.

i have a good machine, but at some point Chrome started to be slow for me - it starts fast, its loads 1-2 pages fast, but if i choose to open 15 new tabs at once, its taking way too much, and after a couple of days of usage, even for loading a handful of tabs Chrome is being slow - first its showing me a blank page for a couple of seconds, then it starts loading.. ive tried numerous versions, but with no luck .. its still slow - beta, dev, stable ....

so i prefer using Firefox 5.0 beta, as its fast, loads 15-20 tabs in an instant and despite the memory leaks and freezes, its fine.. i believe in the final version of 5.0 (21st June) it will be OK and these bugs will be fixed

Udedenkz said,

He is probably on a low end system such as netbook or a $400-600 notebook.
I have two low-end systems (one can only run the Witcher on lowest settings for example).

On both systems FF4 to FF7a are much slower than Iron 12 (Chrome 12 derivative).

NO browser should require a computer that is capable of running the Witcher in any setting, to run without feeling slow.

a browser should run just fine on an Atom 270 computer without problems. including flash based games. If it can't do that, then it's a horribly coded browser. it's a web browser for f's sake, not a fricken game.

that was the most ridiculous argument against a browser being slow ever.

Jebadiah said,
On low-end systems Chrome would be equally bad. Chrome is a memory hog because of the use of independent processes, not that it is a bad thing though. I love what Google are doing with Chrome, however, I value my privacy more than that, and, hence, I stick with Firefox.

Yep on my old p4 pc with 512 MB of ram I run Opera and had easily 50 tabs open before. Opera rules on slow machines.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Have you even tried Firefox 4? Running great here with 20 + tabs always open and 35 extensions. It has been running for 2 days straight. Today will be the third day.

Capric0rn said,

Saying things about software you haven't tried yet isn't really contributing anything.

"I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser."

MASTER260 said,

"I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser."

He also said he hasn't used it since Chrome 1.0, which was a long time ago. In other words he has not even used Firefox 4, so what was your point again? Oh that's right, you don't have one.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

maybe because chrome lacks of almost everything, cant be customized, and its more forced experience, maybe you should try opera, its the fastest browser.

But for the best experience i will always prefer firefox

HawkMan said,

NO browser should require a computer that is capable of running the Witcher in any setting, to run without feeling slow.

a browser should run just fine on an Atom 270 computer without problems. including flash based games. If it can't do that, then it's a horribly coded browser. it's a web browser for f's sake, not a fricken game.

that was the most ridiculous argument against a browser being slow ever.

Atom N270 is pretty slow. It is VERY easy to notice performance difference between software.
FF is really damn slow on it.
Opera, Chrome and IE9 seem to run fine... out of those three Chrome is the best.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Chrome is lame. It's like a browser for kindergarten kids.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Chrome doesn't even use TAB in the address bar like EVERY other browser does. I can't use it until that feature is implemented. Until then I'll stick with FF4. It may open a little slow, but displays things quickly.

farmeunit said,

Chrome doesn't even use TAB in the address bar like EVERY other browser does. I can't use it until that feature is implemented. Until then I'll stick with FF4. It may open a little slow, but displays things quickly.

This is just a problem with you. The up and down arrow keys do the exact same thing.

boumboqc said,
Who cares about that ? Firefox is losing on every point. Been with Chrome since 1.0 and I would never (read : NEVER³) go back to this slow and painful browser. IE isn't better btw.

Bravo, topic successfully derailed.

Oz. said,

I find Firefox a lot much better and faster than Chrome, and I don't use any add-on on it

I know firefox 3.* was a piece of crap, I have used Chrome that time but Firefox 4+ kick ass right now!

I don't find firefox 4 a lot faster. In fact, I find it slower than Firefox 3.X. Firefox 4 always when I run it, it have to take quite some time to load up and when it pops up already, it will be lagging for awhile then it works fine. I am not using some godly computer or some damn weak computer. Just average. And even if my computer is weak, it should work well because chrome just works fine and there is no hardware requirement too.