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pdf.js breaks pdf functionality with no recourse

Posted

I came into work today and lo and behold, after the obligatory but unwanted and unnecessary monthly update from FireFox, PDF files are behaving very differently: not rendering, freezing up, not returning search results, etc. So after spending a half hour (my boss has some choice words for you) trying to figure out what's happened, I find that Firefox has foisted a new "feature" on my workflow: pdf.js, a solution to a problem that never existed. I decide to disable it, as every response from Firefox has suggested, but now PDFs won't open at all. Every PDF I save to the desktop via Firefox and try to open (Adobe won't open inside Firefox anymore - thanks again!) says it's corrupted and unreadable. I switched back to IE and wow, PDFs work as I had configured them, even when I save them to the desktop. So not only did Firefox break the in-browser experience, but you've managed to break things outside the browser as well by corrupting PDFs as they pass through Firefox. *golf clap* This system was working perfectly 16 hours ago when I left work.

This really is the straw that broke the camel's back. I have a long history with Firefox, a regular supporter, cheerleader, bug reporter, reviewer and donator (I've signed up with a new email to make this comment), and the last year has been nothing but a downward spiral. I swallowed the new stupid update cycle even though it's obvious that issues like this exact one are a seriously detrimental side-effect, but I cannot swallow this. You have the best browser in existence but you are killing it. Absolutely. You have alienated one of your hardcore supporters and the thing is you don't even care, not one whit.

I know this is supposed to be a support question but honestly I don't care anymore, either. I have to switch back to IE (Chrome is just... not good) and this time I am not looking back. I will be relinquishing Firefox to what used to be IE's status: only used when I can't get functionality from another browser (essentially when I need to use the web developer toolbar). Too bad. I just dread the spate of friends, relatives and colleagues that will be flooding me with problems and requests to remove Firefox (s it can't be fixed).

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • Shockwave Flash 11.6 r602
  • LogMeIn, Inc. Remote Access Components
  • Google Update
  • NPRuntime Script Plug-in Library for Java(TM) Deploy
  • VLC media player Web Plugin 2.0.2
  • Adobe PDF Plug-In For Firefox and Netscape 10.1.3
  • The QuickTime Plugin allows you to view a wide variety of multimedia content in Web pages. For more information, visit the QuickTime Web site.

Application

  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:19.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/19.0

More Information

Matt_G
  • Administrator
  • Moderator
380 solutions 1848 answers

Hey ThiniceForFireFox,

The new pdf.js feature was actually something that was highly requested. We are still fine tuning it, but it should let you know if it thinks it might have trouble reading a pdf. Are you not getting the info bar that allows you to open items in a different reader?

You can find information on how to modify pdf settings or even disable pdf.js and use adobe as you did before in the PDF.js article. Take a look at that and if you have any other questions, feel free to post here.

Hope this helps!

cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10762 solutions 96861 answers

You can change the action for Portable Document Format (PDF) from Preview in Firefox to use the Adobe Reader or set to Always Ask in "Firefox > Options > Applications".

You can set the pdfjs.disabled pref to true on the about:config page to disable the build-in PDF viewer and use the Adobe Reader instead.

VikkiO 0 solutions 4 answers

Helpful Reply

The problem with all these answers for changing about:config and changing the default firefox behavior is not user friendly or intuitive for visitors coming to a site and attempting to view pdfs that have additional functionality or for people who won't be able to understand how to do what you're asking them to do.

On two test machines changing the default viewer to Acrobat in firefox failed for me. As bad is changing the default view for the firefox user who is accustomed to the Acrobat reader ui.

The failure message for firefox users who have a current version of the Acrobat plugin that they have already chosen to use is that their default pdf viewer cannot view this type of document and that they can go to Adobe to update their plugin. How confusing is that. So all these users will believe the Acrobat Reader plugin to be defective instead of the native pdf viewer in firefox.

Why would firefox change a behavior a user has already chosen as their viewer of choice and the make them jump through hoops to get their viewer of choice back?

I think firefox took a serious step backward.

Bea78 0 solutions 1 answers

Helpful Reply

I don't think this feature was ready for prime time. I spent about an hour over the last day and a half going back and forth with a staff member by email who reported that several of our PDFs "wouldn't download". I found that the new PDF viewer handles our PDFs generated from document scans abysmally, taking so long to load pages as the user scrolls that they might legitimately give up and assume the pages will not load, and scaling the page images poorly enough to make them very difficult to read for those with the patience to see them at all. Simply downloading the same document to the same machine occurs so quickly that it's hard to register a download delay at all, so I'm not sure what takes so long.

The staff member was over the moon when we got the new feature deactivated on his machine. I'm sure that we have site users all over right now who are having the same problem, and don't have the technical expertise to know that they can bypass the hinky viewer, or even to know that the viewer is the problem.

In testing this out with multiple users and operating systems, I find that users who are annoyed by the new viewer don't seem to realize that they aren't dealing with Acrobat Reader, and so will tend to blame Adobe for their headaches. Not fair, but the new viewer does look awfully like a plug-in PDF reader.

milescato 0 solutions 1 answers

Our clients use interactive PDFs, a valid business choice.

This new default feature (pdf.js) of course doesn't have a clue about that ... so now by default all our interactive PDFs are flat when viewed in Firefox.

It's really asking a lot for us now to add special instructions on our forms page describing all the hoops to jump through to get the form our client wants to display as a pdf. It will be a lot easier, and better for our clients to simply recommend they use another browser.

Too bad, I like others have been a fan of Firefox, but agree with other comments above, you guys are veering off in the wrong direction.