In what I believe is a brilliant move, the newest developer builds of Chrome include a PDF viewer, forsaking the plug-in model, and the possibility of system compromise through the use of an older and possibly (probably?) insecure Adobe Reader on the user’s machine.
The Chromium blog announced that the latest Google Chrome developer build for Windows and Mac includes a plug-in that allows viewing of PDF files without Adobe Reader plug-in. Google says it has decided to dump the traditional Adobe plug-in due to issues in compatibility, performance, and security.
The Chrome PDF viewer renders PDF files as seamlessly as HTML web pages, and supports basic interactions with web pages such as zooming and searching. The PDF viewer lacks useful features like pagination, bookmarks and certain types of embedded media and PDF rendering quality is still a work in progress. Those users who rely on these advanced features, Google plans to give them the ability to launch Adobe Reader separately.
Users will also automatically receive the latest version of Chrome’s PDF support; they won’t have to worry about manually updating any plug-ins or programs.
What user needs advanced features on casual viewing of files? If you need the features of Acrobat Reader, you shouldn’t be too inconvenienced to download the PDF file, and thereby remove some of the danger by removing the live internet connection.
The people at Chromium are definitely using their thinking caps, and it would be a great thing to see this sort of usability on every browser. (Who will be next to come out with it? Are you listening, SRWare and Comodo?) I would think that the philosophy of the people at Opera Labs would be to leave this out of their builds, but I can definitely see Mozilla coming out with this soon, simply as a measure to “keep up with the Joneses.”
This is a fairly major addition, yet I sincerely hope that the guy who assigns the versioning numbers does not get carried away – otherwise we will be at Chrome 23.76 before the end of next year.
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