Firefox 19 (PDF viewer)

The Firefox browser by Mozilla, the non-profit organization, was once hailed as the biggest threat to Internet Explorer’s dominance, but boy do times change fast.

In just a few short years following its release, Google’s Chrome has become the most popular browser out there. And while Firefox certainly doesn’t lack a punch, it does fall behind Google’s baby in several aspects.

I’ve always loved Chrome’s built-in Adobe Flash player (because it doesn’t pollute the entire system with Adobe’s buggy plug-in). Another Chrome feature I love: a nice PDF viewer, also built-in. Starting today, a new major release of Firefox for Mac, Windows and Linux is available for download and it comes with a built-in HTML5-based PDF viewer, just like Chrome…

You’re probably wondering why the fuss, right?

Well, try pulling that New York subway schedule or clicking on a PDF document on a web site. The benefits of a built-in PDF viewer become immediately apparent: rather than hang in there as the resource-hungry Adobe Reader browser plug-in takes over the browser, the new Firefox nearly instantaneously renders the document.

Mozilla explains in a blog post:

For example, you can use the PDF viewer to check out a menu from your favorite restaurant, view and print concert tickets or read reports without having to interrupt your browsing experience with extra clicks or downloads.

The PDF viewer makes use of the standard HTML5 APIs. It’s really fast, even faster than the really speedy PDF browser plug-ins like Foxit Reader or Sumatra PDF.

If you ask me, that’s how all browsers should be.

I never understood why in the 21st century anyone requires a proprietary plug-in to watch some web video or read PDF documents. Those plug-ins only add up to the overall browser load and eat up system resources.

Worse, plug-ins introduce new attack vectors for hackers, as blatantly highlighted by today’s news of a Facebook-like breach at Apple that exploited a vulnerability in the Java plug-in for browsers.

Here’s the full Firefox 19 changelog:

• built-in PDF viewer
• canvas elements can export their content as an image blob using canvas.toBlob()
• startup performance improvements (bugs 715402 and 756313)
• debugger now supports pausing on exceptions and hiding non-enumerable properties
• remote Web Console is available for connecting to Firefox on Android or Firefox OS (experimental, set devtools.debugger.remote-enabled to true)
• rhere is now a Browser Debugger available for add-on and browser developers (experimental, set to true)
• web Console CSS links now open in the Style Editor
• CSS @page is now supported
• CSS viewport-percentage length units implemented (vh, vw, vmin and vmax)
• CSS text-transform now supports full-width
• starting Firefox with -private flag incorrectly claims you are not in Private Browsing mode (802274)

Firefox 19 is a free download for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux in more than 70 languages right from Mozilla. If you already have a previous version installed, you can get the latest available update by choosing the About Firefox menu item.

The previous Firefox 18 release brought out Retina MacBook Pro support and an improved JavaScript compiler that runs complex web apps up to 25 percent faster.

Still missing in Firefox: the Pin Tab feature from Chrome (Mozilla, you reading this?)

  • Tr1pTr0p

    So basically, Firefox is only about two years behind Chrome. Good to know.

  • acdeag

    Pin Tab exists in my version of FF (19)

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    Tomorrow Firefox 20. And the day after that Firefox 21

    • Lol. Check the Google Chrome version number.

      • Google chrome is doing great, not like FF being slow as fu#%!
        And you don’t even notice GC updating since it does it by itself.

        Whats better about GC compared to FF?
        .) Less loading time
        .) That above is all what a browser should be (-> Fast!).

        Nearly every other point is opinion – based… But this,… is a fact!

    • A consumer should not be bothered with this programming stuff, css, php stuff god knows what …

      He should experience a great time while surfing around the web.

      – Chrome

      Is the way to browse, and every ( Chrome ) consumer knows that to appreciate.

      I have never had a great experience with FF, loading slow, tabs won’t let them self close as easy as on chrome, and the list goes on.

      At the time I’ve started Chrome, I simply felt in love. Fluent, fast, good lokin’

  • Keith S.

    By what metric are you claiming Google to be “the most popular browser out there?” According to every report I’ve seen (one example:, IE is still the most popular, with Firefox and Chrome behind it — but Firefox still (barely) in second.

    I’m not disagreeing that Chrome is very popular, has picked up users very quickly, and is a great browser with an avid following. It may even have the highest user satisfaction ratings — I don’t know. But I’m not sure where you can reliably claim it to be “most popular”. Such objective terms should be backed up with facts, and I’m not aware of any to back that up.

    Wait, what did this have to do with iOS again? 🙂

  • andy.grope

    And Chrome will eventually make their Browser Useable with a Sidebar for Bookmarksthat stays open

  • The major thing missing from both Chrome and Firefox is Reader from Safari!!!