Not long ago, Mozilla coders announced that they were starting to build PDF.js, a way to display Acrobat documents in the browser using pure web code. No longer will you have to fight with an external PDF plug-in in Firefox. Huzzah!
Mozilla’s PDF reader for Firefox is quite different from the one Google ships in Chrome. The Chrome PDF plug-in makes use of code written by the folks at Foxit. It’s not, therefore, part of the open-source Chromium code. Firefox, on the other hand, is developed completely in the open — and that’s the case with all its components as well. Pdf.js source code is available for download from GitHub if you’d like to check out its inner workings or integrate the code into your own projects.
As far as functionality goes, the built-in PDF reader in Firefox offers pretty well the same experience to users as the one in Chrome. Documents load quickly, font rendering is good (though not razor sharp in all cases), and printing works flawlessly.
Not all of Adobe’s advanced features are supported — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you look at the number of security incidents related to PDFs in 2010 and 2011. You’ll still be able to read the majority of the PDFs on the web, anyway, and all through the magic or pure, open web code!
Development is still on the way but you can already try it out.The restart-free add-on is available from the GitHub repository — just download the .XPI in Firefox and click to install.