Firefox 14 to Come with Built-in PDF Support

With all the recent changes in the web technology stack and the advancements in web-browsers, third-party plugins are becoming a thing of the past. A decade ago, Adobe thrived on a business, which was based around providing an extra layer on top of the web. Adobe provided us with PDF readers and flash for web. However, with HTML 5, videos do no need a flash container to run inside a browser. When it comes to PDF files, Google Chrome has already devised a way to display PDF files in a web browser and now, Firefox has deployed its own solution to display PDF files in the browser.

PDF.js is a well-known script that renders PDF files with HTML and JavaScript successfully. It can be installed as an extension. However, the good news is that the latest nightly version of Firefox 14 ships with PDF.js built in. This is a major improvement as it adds a default PDF support in Firefox. Although the PDF rendering from Pdf.js is not as smooth as Adobe Reader, it is worth the freedom.

Dr. Andreas Gal, the Director of research t Mozilla writes about the benefits of the PDF.js extension, saying,

The traditional approach to rendering PDFs in a browser is to use a native-code plugin, either Adobe’s own PDF Reader or other commercial renderers, or some open source alternative (e.g. poppler). From a security perspective, this enlarges the trusted code base, and because of that, Google’s Chrome browser goes through quite some pain to sandbox the PDF renderer to avoid code injection attacks. An HTML5-based implementation is completely immune to this class of problems.

Adobe plugin have attracted security vulnerabilities for too long, and with Flash losing ground, finally, we are moving towards a truly open web without any proprietary layers on top of it. The PDF.js project is developed openly and can be found on Github.

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