back to article Mozilla to Adobe: PDFs don't need no more steenking plugins

Mozilla's come right out and said what plenty of people think about PDF-reading browser plugins: they're often woefully insecure, generally replicate things browsers can already do and rely on proprietary technology. Mozilla's answer is HTML 5 allied with the pdf.js project, which together allow a newly-released beta of …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chrome

    So almost 3 years behind Chrome! Wow!

    http://blog.chromium.org/2010/06/bringing-improved-pdf-support-to-google.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chrome

      Lol! Burn.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chrome

      All I see here is a Pepper plugin. Whether it is bundled with the browser or distributed separately is completely irrelevant : it's still an external plugin, far from the pure Javascript, cross-platform and cross-browser PDF viewer Mozilla is integrating.

      1. Mike Kamermans
        FAIL

        Re: Chrome

        Umm... no? https://github.com/mozilla/pdf.js, it's literally a javascript library that anyone can use, it just comes with Firefox. Want to use it on a website? It's right there, just include the pdf.js script...

    3. R 11

      Re: Chrome

      It would actually be helpful if the article explained why this is different than when pdf.js was included about a year ago in Firefox 14?

      http://www.ghacks.net/2012/03/23/firefox-14-gets-built-in-pdf-reader-pdf-js/

      Is it just enabled by default now? It's certainly not new.

    4. N13L5

      Re: Chrome

      I don't actually want my browser to display pdf files. I want them downloaded.

  2. ScissorHands
    Holmes

    Before someone claims the contrary

    It works perfectly on Opera.

  3. Androgynous Crackwhore
    Thumb Up

    Welcome news.

    And so ends another why-the-hell-did-we-put-up-with-that era.

  4. P. Lee Silver badge

    What's changed?

    Isn't the danger in the flexibility of the format and the poor coding?

    Let's just hope the mozilla and chrome coders are better than adobe's.

  5. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    What about the other way round?

    For many many years ColdFusion (shudder) has been able to convert HTML into Pointless Document Format. Will Firefox be able to do the same? (not that there's ever any need whatsoever for making a PDF out of anything)

    1. Baudwalk

      Re: What about the other way round?

      Firefox on Android can.

      1. Euripides Pants Silver badge

        Re: What about the other way round?

        Firefox on Linux can.

    2. Florence

      Re: What about the other way round?

      That sounds complicated. Are there still OSs out there that do not include a PDF printer by default?

  6. LinkOfHyrule
    Thumb Up

    Peedy-eff!

    I love how when someone is having a browse on the internet, maybe looking up some info on the local council website or something, and they blindly click a link to a PDF file, and expecting a normal HTML page to load, you suddenly hear them say "oh for fucks sake" under their breath as the adobe plug-in slowly loads up!

    This news will make Firefox users slightly more productive and swear less - I support it fully!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Peedy-eff!

      The issue isn't really the plugin, it's the f'ing 8.1mb file size to see a 2 page document becuase some numpty has directly copied a photo from their camera in it.

      Does this get over that?

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Peedy-eff!

        Given that many business all-in-one printer/scanner/etc machines include the option to e-mail a scanned PDF, it seems woefully unlikely.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Flame

    Why would you want to view a pdf in the browser anyway?

    If I get pointed at a pdf, it gets downloaded and then viewed.

    There's simply no need for a pdf in a web-page except as a downloadable object. As the thing is intended to be downloaded and viewed off line, what's the point of an embedded reader?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why would you want to view a pdf in the browser anyway?

      Perhaps you just want a quick glance at the info they've sequestered into the pointless blob... without the download-piontless-blob/load-bloated,insecure,unnecessary-crapware/view-info/cleanup rigmarole?

      1. LinkOfHyrule
        Joke

        Re: Why would you want to view a pdf in the browser anyway?

        Exactly, such as in my example earlier, people sometimes just want to check what day the dustmen are coming to collect the trash aka rat-feeder, hence why they say "oh for fucks sake" when their browser slows the heck up to load a plug in!

        Downloading the info then opening up the reader app separately will certainly result in even more swearing - probably something like "oh for fucks sake this is seriously fucking fucky! - I fucking hate Adobe! - the bunch of fucking bastards! - I wish they would all just do a cult style suicide pact and drink bleach and cyanide and spare us from this endless shit! - bunch of fucking sub human fuck scum fucking fuckers!"

        1. Florence

          Re: Why would you want to view a pdf in the browser anyway?

          I've always found opening PDF files in an external reader (other than Adobe's obviously) to be much faster and far less frustrating than waiting for the Adobe plugin to load.

          PDFs are absolutely fine as long as you stay away from the Adobe software.

          1. BlueGreen

            "PDFs are absolutely fine as long as you stay away from the Adobe software."

            I use ghostscript and find a lot of pdfs are broken (FS is pretty intolerant of bad markup).

            I don't know if these borked ones are adobe generated or otherwise produced. When I find them I need a acrobat or foxit to read them.

        2. John Angelico
          Thumb Up

          Re: Why would you want to view a pdf in the browser anyway?

          Your example is best done in a calendar now, so hopefully your local authority/council/whatever-it's-called will ditch PDF for a public calendar display (gee maybe even Google Calendar?) so you don't have to go through all that swearing at Adobe, your council, and their web "design" staff.

          Instead you just include their calendar into your own setup, just like including the public holidays (you DO include those important dates in your calendar app, don't you?).

        3. Steve the Cynic

          Re: Why would you want to view a pdf in the browser anyway?

          While the rant has a good flow and rhythm, your wording's a little off at the end.

          They are "scum *S*ucking fuckers", not "scum *F*ucking fuckers"!

          1. LinkOfHyrule
            Happy

            They are "scum *S*ucking fuckers", not "scum *F*ucking fuckers"!

            Duly noted!

            I take it I wont be marked A* then? - or should that be F* ?

  8. Barry Rueger

    Seriously? You're COMPLAINING about the difficulty of opening PDFs?

    PDF is sufficiently ubiquitous that I don't even think about them. On my hard drive. On a web page, in a browser. As an e-mail attachment. On my phone. In a standalone app... I don't even give it thought. it just works. It's been at least five years since PDF presented any challenge at any time.

    Now, if you want to talk flash web stuff in any browser on my Android phone.....

    1. G Watty What?
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Seriously? You're COMPLAINING about the difficulty of opening PDFs?

      "PDF is sufficiently ubiquitous that I don't even think about them"..."I don't even give it thought. it just works"

      The malware writers must love you...

      "oh a pdf"

      ...clicky clicky....

      "oh where's my data gone...what's this message? give you $150 and you'll unencrypt my drive you say?"

      I'm glad that PDF was so easy to open.

      [later on]

      [ring ring]

      "Hi Microsoft Support"

      "My computer has a virus and you detected remotely? How kind of you to call, yes of course you can have my bank account details...what do you mean you have them already?"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sadly...

    The worst thing about PDF remains incurable... the file bloat...

    "oh for fucks sake this is seriously fucking fucky! - I fucking hate Adobe! - the bunch of fucking bastards! - I wish they would all just do a cult style suicide pact and drink bleach and cyanide and spare us from this endless shit! - bunch of fucking sub human fuck scum fucking fuckers!"

    ...is exactly what I said last time I had to download a 36MB PDF just for an address!

    Oh for fucks sake this is seriously fucking fucky! - I fucking hate Adobe! - the bunch of fucking bastards! - I wish they would all just do a cult style suicide pact and drink bleach and cyanide and spare us from this endless shit! - bunch of fucking sub human fuck scum fucking fuckers!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Sadly...

      The file bloat is mostly a function of document makers going overboard with embedded graphics and fonts. Simple ones with only, say, one or two fonts and a smattering of relatively simple graphics, don't really tip the scales very much.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Sadly...

        Indeed. My Master's dissertation runs to 117 pages of which about one tenth are colour images - and still fits into a 1.7MB pdf. Mind you, that's only fifteen thousand words, so it ought to be about 100kB for the text...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has it improved?

    Last time I tried pdf.js in Firefox it had a fair number of rendering issues. For the time being my solution is to use the Sumatra PDF plugin. Bloat-free, perfect rendering and starts in seconds.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PDF

    Particularly

    Dastardly

    Files

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    People still use Adobe acrobat reader? Its the biggest pile of bloatware on the planet, i long since dumped it on windows in favour of foxit reader and not found a pdf yet its not been able to handle. Although for a while the royalmail.com website insisted you had adobe reader installed and refused to work with any other pdf reader but they seemed to have dropped that requirement now.

  13. Gerard Krupa

    Fine for Static PDFs

    The alternatives work well for static PDFs and some of them even support Acrobat forms but so far there are no third-party replacements for Adobe's own reader for filling in XML-based PDF forms generated by Adobe LiveCycle.

    1. Colin Millar
      Flame

      Re: Fine for Static PDFs @ Gerald Krupa

      No third party support for PDF Forms - that's a good thing - lets not encourage the bastards.

      PDF Forms - has there ever been anything more pointless - lets collect some information and lock it away so we can't use it.

      Burn Adobe, burn in hell.

  14. John Deeb
    Boffin

    PDF is one of those typical unavoidable bad things which became indispensable by lack of alternative to somewhat easy to exchange intensely *formatted* texts which also needed to be *printable* and * presentable* over a range of platforms and media including paper which ruled out HTML4 or XHTML1 for many many reasons. Postscript was at the time too limited for typical use cases and why LaTeX didn't take off huge I still don't know but someone might be able to explain. In the end people didn't even do PDF that much and kept sending Word documents to world + dog and an industry of Word viewers popped up to "fix" that.

    In the mean time SVG has been established somewhat but it took quite a while to agree. And it didn't become really simpler when you want to do something complex without the right tools, at least that's my impression so far. I'm sure a whole generation of SVG haters will rise with it.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Quite.

      I could never really come up with an answer to "Why don't they send it as a Word document? Everyone has Word!" Other than the fact the "everyone" had a pirate copy of Word.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Quite.

        "...I could never really come up with an answer to "Why don't they send it as a Word document? Everyone has Word!" Other than the fact the "everyone" had a pirate copy of Word..."

        And that is why I spend so much of my time headbutting my keyboard. Because there are still so many people out there who think Windoze + Office = computer.

        I don't have Word. I never have had Word. I never will have Word. I won't have any Microsoft software installed on any computer I own. Ever.

        Thumbs up for PDF. It's not the file format's fault that there are fuckwitts out there too stupid to create optimised PDFs for email or web use —any more than the jpeg format is to blame for people embedding a 3000 pixel wide photograph, scaled down to the size of an avatar, on a web-page

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Why not LaTeX?

      It's simple, really. Every LaTeX-prepared document I've ever seen has used the most dog-ugly scratchy font I've ever had the misfortune to see. Uglier even than the dog-ugly scratchy renditions of the Latin alphabet in most for-the-Orient fonts.

      And they have all been impenetrably obtuse academic papers, so the marketroids avoid it like the plague. Who wants their marketing material to look like an obtuse academic paper written in a font too ugly to qualify for Oriental-font Latin-part status?

      1. eulampios

        Re: Why not LaTeX?

        You sure you don't have a myopia?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      LaTeX vs PDF

      why LaTeX didn't take off huge I still don't know...

      I like LaTeX, but LaTeX itself is too complex for non-technical users. Even with good tooling that abstracts away most of the macros and settings (eg LyX), LaTeX users need to have some understanding of the toolchain and how it operates. Some manager banging out a memo does not want to confront an "overfull h-box" error.

      And LaTeX's sprawling collection of add-on packages are also too confusing for casual users. Again, even with a decent package manager, occasional users will have trouble with this right when they don't want to worry about it. "This document needs soul? It needs Frankenstein? Am I printing a script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

      (Incidentally, Steve the Cynic complains about fonts in LaTeX rendered documents. That's a sign that the author didn't bother getting a decent font, of which there are a great many available for LaTeX. My typical LaTeX document, rendered in Palatino with proper kerning, microjustification, protrusions, etc, looks a hundred times better than anything Word can produce.)

      Yes, much of that could be addressed with better tooling, but building that, in a manner that provides a pleasant, low-effort user experience for the average office user, is a great deal of work. And it'd be hard to get paid for that work, since the underlying tech is free.

      But in any case, comparing LaTeX with PDF is a category error. LaTeX is a typesetting language and associated resources. PDF is a file format that's mostly concerned with specifying page layout. LaTeX documents are frequently used to generate PDFs (eg via pdftex). LaTeX is closer to HTML+CSS in this sense - it's instructions for composing a document, not a description of the final rendering.

  15. Test Man
    Alert

    What happens if it comes across an encrypted document? Will it still respect the permissions? And embedded documents? Forms?

    1. Mike Kamermans
      Go

      I hope not

      which encryption? password protected content? I hope it goes "I'm sorry, this is not open data, whoever put this file online is a complete idiot". But it's also just an open source project that anyone can use, which the article forgot to mention. Hit up https://github.com/mozilla/pdf.js and find out whether it does what you want.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PDFs

    PDFs are nice if you have documents that you're likely to want to print or send around by email. Unfortunately they get used inappropriately far too much. You shouldn't really need a browser plugin, because stuff posted on the web should be in HTML, not PDFs.

    For example, huge user manuals in PDF format you need to download, when it could be put online with RoboHelp or tomeCMS or similar. I might only want the info in some subsection, I really don't want to download a huge 40MB file just to be able to get to that.

    1. DesktopGuy
      Thumb Down

      Re: PDFs

      Surprised nobody mentioned OS X. All onscreen rendering is PDF based.

      That's why there is a Save for PDF section in every print dialogue box.

      Every native OS X application including Safari (which shares a fair bit code with Chrome) can render PDF.

      First thing I check on ever Apple I play with (which is several thousand so far) is if the cursed Adobe PDF plugin has been removed and if not, to swiftly dispose of it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: PDFs

        "...Surprised nobody mentioned OS X. All onscreen rendering is PDF based..."

        That's because this is El Reg. You're only allowed to make positive comments about Linux and Android. Anything else is trolling, shilling or fanboi-ism.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: PDFs and OS X

        Are you sure it isn't actually Display Postscript v3, which just so happens to be able to render PDF v1.5 ....

        I'm just thinking that Postscript and Apple goes way back to 1985 and the LaserWriter. Plus Steve Jobs used Display Postscript on the NeXT; which as we know was effectively the protoype for OS/X. (Adobe also made Display Postscript widely available on Unix during the 1990's). And PDF v1.5 was only finalised in late 2003, compared to PS v3 in 1997 and the first release of OS X in 2002.

  17. Wardy01
    WTF?

    Why Bother?

    With HTML 5 getting more and more support daily i'm writing more and more code that does a better job that a "Peedy-Eff" in that its ...

    1. Better quality

    2. Smaller

    3. Doesn't take 3 weeks to download

    4. Is based on well known standards

    This IMO is a failing of the provider of the document ... if it's something that "trivial" that you want to glance at it should not be a PDF at all and should in fact just be on the friggin web page.

    So to put it bluntly ...

    PDF is dead, it's an archaic method of making a document and serves no purpose on the web.

    It belongs in a desktop driven world (which basically doesn't exist any more) for larger "100+ page" type scenarios only.

    I wish Adobe would just retire that POS so the world can get on with using either OOXML or HTML5 to get the job done.

    1. John Deeb
      Boffin

      Re: Why Bother?

      If HTML 5 docs would be "smaller" will most often have to do with the choice in images and fonts being embedded. There are some other things I'm not that sure about how to do in HTML like overlaying OCR-text and image of that text in a sensible way. And I mean without recreating the same situation as we had in PDF already but then worse. I've done it in SVG so I guess we could embed SVG in HTML5 at the very least. Don't forget it's not just about a presentation version for web viewing but also has to be able to serve as exchange format and the other party has to be able to have all the information of the originals. The reason people want to view PDF "as is" on the web page is just because it's work to convert between page and screen oriented layouts. So people don't bother to recreate the document, they just render on the web what they have. If they would create in HTML5 I wonder what will happen when people want to print seriously and serially (in pages). What you see is what you print? Or is your HTML5 with printing stylesheet going to give all kinds of surprises? I'm not impressed with previewing functions of browers although they are getting there.

  18. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    >I could never really come up with an answer to "Why don't they send it as a Word document? Everyone has >Word!" Other than the fact the "everyone" had a pirate copy of Word.

    Not me. Not getting it either, pirated or legit. Someone[1] sent me a Word document to fill out. Office 365 trial couldn't render it correctly, I had to download and install the Office trial. What a performance.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      I've probably still got the floppy disks for Word 6,

      I'll post them over, if you like!

  19. BlueGreen

    'trace-based just-in-time specialisation for dynamic languages'

    Nice choice to demo on. That, peeps, is the skull beneath the skin.

  20. RonWheeler

    Chrome..

    is the default PDF viewer on my PC. Even for local files. Works great. Havn't needed Foxit or the official bloatware in years.

  21. Christian Berger

    Is that even possible?

    I mean there are things you cannot do in JS. For example executing binary files on the computer, or file access on the computer, or buffer overruns. Without those most PDF applications won't work, and PDF is reduced to a simple document format.

    BTW here's a nice talk from 2010 about PDF showing some of the nice features.

    http://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2010/27c3-4221-en-omg_wtf_pdf.html

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