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Google Makes Latest Chrome Build Open PDFs By Default 202

Posted by timothy
from the open-it-use-dynamite-if-necessary dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is changing the way its browser handles PDF files, starting with the Chrome Canary channel. Citing security concerns, the company wants Chrome to open PDF files by default, bypassing any third-party programs such as Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader."
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Google Makes Latest Chrome Build Open PDFs By Default

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  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:56PM (#45439571)

    Great. Another configuration change to manage on all our workstations.
    The Chrome PDF viewer is shit. So is the Firefox one. They're fine for viewing most basic PDFs, but anything more involved (forms, interactive PDFs, portfolios, etc.) and they both just shit the bed.

    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LunaticTippy (872397) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:05PM (#45439673)
      I understand hating the built in viewers, but to me they are a blessing. There are so many things that are PDFs for no reason. I really appreciate a quick and dirty way to see PDFs, and with my usage it is good enough 90% of the time. For the interactive ones etc. I tend to recognize which ones aren't going to work so I just download the file. On unfamiliar systems I always grit my teeth when clicking a link causes a 20 second delay while Adobe Viewer lurches from the shadows and demands to be updated.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just give me a prompt to save/open/cancel any day. I miss the good old days.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Just give me a prompt to save/open/cancel any day. I miss the good old days.

          You can disable individual Chrome pug-ins - including the PDF viewer - in Settings -> Content Settings. I'm sure there are other ways to get to that setting.

          • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @09:52PM (#45440405)

            If a new feature is added by way of an update, it should prompt for its settings the first time it becomes relevant. So on the first click on a PDF the browser should prompt: "you can now view PDFs within the browser, enable / disbale this feature / let me try once and prompt me again." It shouldn't silently enable the feature and let the hapless user hunt in the settings for a way to disable it, that's just rude.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            yeah that's how it is now but what the fuck is wrong with bringing up the dialog with options if you have multiple pdf capable apps like it is now?

      • Re:Great (Score:5, Informative)

        by icebike (68054) on Friday November 15, 2013 @09:41PM (#45440359)

        Agreed, I actually PREFER to have Chrome open a pdf, because its one less virus ridden file I have to deal with.
        I'm still given the option of saving it if I want. Chrome itself seems to recognize which PDFs it can't handle, and prompts for download.
        (but those are PRECISELY the ones you have to worry about the most. )

        I really don't understand why this is news, since Chrome has been doing this for years now.
        (At least since 2010 according to TFA).

        Maybe they will enhance it enough such that we don't need to run any Adobe software. With Adobe dropping linux support
        all together, there are no fully capable alternatives.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          The news is that Chrome only ever opened PDFs by default if Acrobat wasn't installed.

          Now they're giving the big middle finger to Adobe saying we think your reader for your format is insecure so we're going to open PDFs regardless of what you do. That is quite a significant change.

          • by icebike (68054)

            That's simply not true.
            I have both Adobe and Foxit installed and MOST PDFs open via Chrome.

            • by thegarbz (1787294)

              You can claim that all you want. You're an edge case, maybe as a result of playing with some settings at some point. Since version 8 the PDF viewer only worked by default if the Adobe PDF extension was not present on the system. Clicking on a PDF will bring it up at the bottom in the download bar along with a security warning saying the file type may harm your computer. It also greyed out the option to always download that filetype.

              Do a search on the Google forums. There's plenty of threads asking how to wo

        • by devent (1627873)

          How so? It's more insecure in the long term, because now Google have to support not only a web browser but a Pdf viewer. And both have a long history of being insecure. Insecure+Insecure!=more secure. But because it's from Google you think it's going to be magically more secure?

          I would rather think that Google will either drop the ball on either the browser part or the PDF part in the long term. And it will not be the PDF part that will get less support from Google. Expect to hear news of security exploits

          • by cupantae (1304123)

            now Google have to support not only a web browser but a Pdf viewer

            I don't think that's relevant. Each of Google and Adobe have lots of other software that they have to support. The fact that the PDF viewer sits inside the browser doesn't really affect its maintenance.

            both have a long history of being insecure

            ...unlike Adobe Reader?

            I would rather think that Google will either drop the ball on either the browser part or the PDF part in the long term.

            Why? They're both important and need to be maintained.

            Expect to hear news of security exploits in Chrome based on their PDF viewer.

            Expect to hear news of security exploits in all popular software. I'm already sick of hearing about exploits in Acrobat.

            I think a move towards multiple viewers will help PDF as a standard, and a move away from Adobe's software in par

      • Re:Great (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HJED (1304957) on Friday November 15, 2013 @10:11PM (#45440497)
        I don't know about the chrome one, but in Firefox the inbuilt PDF viewer correctly displays less than half the pdfs I open. This is primarily due to its terrible Unicode support (worse than slashdot), but also due to failures in displaying pretty much anything that isn't text.
      • Re:Great (Score:5, Funny)

        by djdanlib (732853) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @01:35AM (#45441351) Homepage

        Yup, especially restaurant menus, which are *always* in PDF. It's frustrating when you're on mobile and just want to see the menu before you commit a large party with diverse dietary restrictions to going somewhere.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          No, some restaurant menus are actually in flash which is even worse than pdf... At least the pdf files will view on most mobiles, flash is completely unusable.
          Several restaurants have lost my custom because their menus were in flash.

        • Re:Great (Score:5, Interesting)

          by houghi (78078) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @07:22AM (#45442047)

          The reason is that they use Word to make their PDFs to print them out. This saves time. Just upload the one you used for printing.

          To me it seems if you can not be bothered about the presentation on a website, will you bother with details in your kitchen?

          Talking resyaurant websites. It seems that especially high end restaurants have terrible websites. Just two examples of high end restaurants:
          http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/ [thefatduck.co.uk]
          http://www.cellercanroca.com/index.htm [cellercanroca.com]
          As great as their food is, as lousy is their website. Seriously: what were they thinking? If they treat the food as they treat their website, McD should be the highest quality food.

      • by temcat (873475)

        I really appreciate a quick and dirty way to see PDFs

        I dunno about Chrome, but the built-in viewer in Firefox is not quick at all. And documents look butt-ugly in it.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        There is a good reason for their being PDFs. That's to make them readable and printable on almost any machine running almost any system. they could have exported them to html but that wouldn't make them automatically have identical pagination on every system regardless of browsers, screen size and other things that are relevant for documents primarily intended for print.

        I agree with the overall 90%, except in my case it's more like 98% of the time I only want the document to read and maybe print. If the

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        But you are missing the point in that it should be YOUR choice and NOT Google's as to which is default.

        Lets face it, it would be insanely easy to have a simple checkbox on first install or upgrade that simply asks "Would you like us to be the default PDF viewer?" so that those like yourself that don't have a preference can simply leave the box checked and those of us that do have a preference (in my case its Sumatra for the home users and Foxit or Adobe depending on the business) wouldn't have to go muckin

    • Great. Another configuration change to manage on all our workstations.

      No problem with anti-competitive practices, or inferior-by-default programs. Just don't make your system administrator ... administer anything else.

      Why are we even holding onto PDFs, anyways?

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        Why are we even holding onto PDFs, anyways?

        Same reason why we "even" hold onto Word files: it's not that we *create* them, but that they're PUSHED hard to us by other content creators for work reasons. In a digital world, they are transmission and retention standards*. Our only influence is issuing private complaints to whoever sends us the files, but sometimes their workflow or software removes any say they personally have in the matter, as much automation outputs exclusively to pdf.

        We can't be judging standard fatigue till *we* stop sending all ou

      • Re:Great (Score:5, Informative)

        by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:39PM (#45439959)

        Why are we even holding onto PDFs, anyways?

        I myself tend to like PDFs for print materials because it's pretty much the only format that is guaranteed to scale exactly as shown. When I scan documents, or create documents that are primarily going to be used in print form, it's pretty much a given that they'll always be PDF's.

        For anything else though they're annoying.

        • That's because that's what they were supposed to be for, until Adobe decided to start shitting into bags and hanging them off the side of the standard.

      • Because PDFs open up correctly on just about any computer and PDF printers make it simple for end users to use a skill they already have (printing documents, and don't laugh, for a lot of people it was something they had to learn with real effort).
        • For transporting documents intended for print, or intended to look like standard size printed paper, off does a good job, and there's a reason for that.

          For those unfamiliar with the history, Postscript is a popular language for computers to talk to printers. Windows, Mac and other computers could all speak Postscript. "Print preview" functions could also read the postscript commands to display a print-like view on screen. So if you wanted a platform independent document, you could just use those Postscrip

      • Why are we even holding onto PDFs, anyways?

        Can you even generate Word docs from LaTeX files?

        • by djdanlib (732853)

          You jest, but I'm sure I've rolled my face around on my keyboard and produced a Perl script that does that.

          • I'm quite serious. Converting a LaTeX file to pdf is typing pdflatex foo.tex. If you use pstricks, do latex foo.tex; dvips foo.dvi -o; ps2pdf foo.ps. The -o option in the dvips command outputs to file rather than prints. The default file name is obtained by replacing the dvi with ps.

            I'm sure I've rolled my face around on my keyboard and produced a Perl script

            FTFY.

        • Yes. It's called tex4ht and does a surprisingly good job of producing something that can be mangled into presentable shape in a finite amount of time.

      • by gigaherz (2653757)

        Because they do what they are supposed to do well enough, and they have a large corporation backing and supporting the format.

        If you don't like PDF, you should propose an alternative format that can properly serve the same purpose: to be able to distribute documents in a way that is rendered identical -- or as close to it as possible, anywhere you see it. It should support rendering formatted and spaced text, images, composite images for scanned documents, vector graphics, forms, digital signing, ... and an

        • > an alternative format that can properly serve the same purpose: to be able to distribute documents in a way that is rendered identical

          You mean LaTeX, or its modern descendant tetex, I think. Or the original Postscript standard, which has been effectively replaced by the open source tool ghostscript in most environments due to some outrageous licensing fees from Adobe.

          One reason to use PDF is that it is a de factor standard, not becuase it actually renders more consistently than those older standards.

          • by Zordak (123132)

            > an alternative format that can properly serve the same purpose: to be able to distribute documents in a way that is rendered identical

            You mean LaTeX, or its modern descendant tetex, I think. Or the original Postscript standard, which has been effectively replaced by the open source tool ghostscript in most environments due to some outrageous licensing fees from Adobe.

            One reason to use PDF is that it is a de factor standard, not becuase it actually renders more consistently than those older standards. Another is that it is possible to get commercial support for it, and a third is that it supports some useful "fill-in-blanks" formats. But consistent document formatting is not a reason to prefer PDF over LaTeX. Another is its very tight integration with most powerful web browsers, which does tend to make things faster than loading up the separate view application.

            You're comparing apples and oranges. PDF and LaTeX are not competitors; they are complementary. LaTeX is just a text processing language. Your .tex file will not display anything correctly. It's a plain text file. The default output for LaTeX is PostScript, which is not really intended for display (it's just printer commands). So you will need a program capable of rendering .ps files to view it. Hence, ghostscript, which is not a competing format to postscript, but rather a suite of tools for working with p

            • by gigaherz (2653757)

              XPS is based on the xml-in-a-zip-file paradigm, specifically, the Open Packaging Conventions format, as used by docx and xlsx. In most aspects, PDF and XPS have identical features: both use explicit positioning, formatting and spacing of objects in the document; both support compression, encryption, and some sort of "DRM" schemes. They differ in the details, such as the image formats they support: XPS favors TIFF and JPEG XR, over PDF's Jpeg2000 and JBIG.

              In my opinion, OpenXPS is a better format for the Web

          • by gigaherz (2653757)
            Not "de facto", it's an ISO standard. OpenXPS in turn was standarized by ECMA. Also, ghostscript is a Postscript processor, its main purpose is to print (render) Postscript files, be it into an actual printer, into image files, or into PDF .
      • by mysidia (191772)

        No problem with anti-competitive practices, or inferior-by-default programs. Just don't make your system administrator ... administer anything else.

        Before you diss it, or decide to be heavyhanded and think you need to override Google's choice, because you have to do one more thing.... talk to your security administrator.

        The change creates a minor inconvenience for a small number of uses, and greatly reduces a major security risk.

        Now if only MS, Google, and FF would all agree to put out security u

      • We aren't, they are.

        (RTFM has become RTFPDF - you don't get a paper manual these days for anything.

    • Great. Another configuration change to manage on all our workstations.

      Use the chrome GPO templates, thats sort of why theyre there.

    • anything more involved (forms, interactive PDFs, portfolios, etc.) and they both just shit the bed.

      It's 2013 and still not a single documented sighting of any user ever wanting any of those things from a PDF. Thus, it sounds like you're saying Chrome perfectly does everything, that anyone might ever need.

      • by HJED (1304957)
        I don't know about chrome, but the firefox reader fails to render correctly 60% of PDFs I open. I also use PDF forms, which are extremely useful if you need to type on an official form rather than writing it out. (MS Word consistency isn't good enough for that).
      • Thanks, but our users do use those things.
        The only thing we want them to use is forms (simple fill in, not submit, email, monitor, etc.).

    • by ne0n (884282)
      If it doesn't support js/embedded flash/whatever shitty thing Adobe thinks of next, I'm all for it. PDF is bloated past recognition. This atavistic approach makes sense.
  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:59PM (#45439587) Homepage

    And another example of some tools wanting to be the do-all where they weren't asked and don't belong.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      And another example of some tools wanting to be the do-all where they weren't asked and don't belong.

      I would prefer if the browser stick to rendering only what the standards tell it to: CSS, HTML, PNG, JPEG, GIF... these are all standards. "Adobe PDF" is not. Save it to disk; and let me worry about what to do with it. Everytime you add more features, more code, you add more vulnerabilities.

      Knock it the fuck off, Google. Get your head together: We liked Chrome because it was fast and minimalist. If I wanted a bloated up kitchen sink I'd go with Firefox. Firefox is the emacs of browsers. Chrome is supposed t

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I would prefer if the browser stick to rendering only what the standards tell it to: CSS, HTML, PNG, JPEG, GIF... these are all standards. "Adobe PDF" is not.

        However ISO 32000-1 is a standard.

        Firefox is the emacs of browsers. Chrome is supposed to be the vi. Stop trying to make vi into Emacs!

        *backs away slowly*

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          However ISO 32000-1 is a standard.

          Because a bunch of companies paid a fuckton to have it become a standard, yeah. Google up the history on that... a lot of money was handed out to get an ISO working group and get it stamped as a standard. It was bought and paid for by Adobe. So there's that.

          There's also the fact that PDFs don't belong in a browser anyway. It's an outgrowth of PCL, a language for printing documents out of the 90s. It's not multimedia, and every attempt to make it web-friendly is a bandaid that opens large numbers of vulnerab

    • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:53PM (#45440079)

      Back in reality, this will stop a large number of infections from occurring.

  • I'm OK with that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:02PM (#45439617)

    On older laptops - those that reasonably work well only with XP, I not only install Chrome as the best performing browser, but I also advise people to use it to view PDFs. Note that viewing a PDFs is very different than filling it out etc. A viewer needs to be simple and well performing, and in my experience, even on 10+ year old hardware, Chrome shines there. So, for one, I do welcome this change.

  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:02PM (#45439619) Homepage

    bypassing any third-party programs such as Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader

    Technically, Adobe Reader is the first-party program and Chrome is the third-party program for reading PDFs.

    • by Ksevio (865461) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:08PM (#45439693) Homepage
      I think it means "third-party" in relation to Chrome, not PDFs
    • by djmurdoch (306849)

      No, the first party is the user, and the second party is the program the user is running.

      Google is not proposing to force Adobe Reader to use Chrome.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Technically, Adobe Reader is the first-party program and Chrome is the third-party program for reading PDFs.

      Any document viewer outside the web browser; whether implemented as an executable program or a plugin module, is 3rd party software.

      Chrome has an internal PDF viewer; and then there are 3rd party choices such as Foxit, Sumatra, or Adobe.

      Personally I least-prefer Adobe's PDF reader, even though it used to be one of the most popular ones.

  • Sunnary unclear (Score:5, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <<megazzt> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:20PM (#45439779) Homepage
    1. It will NOT change the way the system handles PDF files.
    2. It has NOTHING to do with how the browser views PDF files on the web (the Chrome PDF viewer is already the default).
    3. It only affects how Chrome handles when you choose to open a downloaded PDF file.

    Likely this was done to be consistent. Any security the Chrome PDF viewer could offer could be easily bypassed by an attacker forcing the file to download. If the user clicks it, it opens in the system PDF viewer.

    I believe Adobe Reader has its own sandbox so this might seem a bit weird... but at least one thing Chrome has going for it that Reader has not is that Chrome is more likely to be up-to-date (I forget how Reader updates itself, if it does at all) AND it pulls the latest Chrome PDF plugin with it.

    • by swillden (191260)

      I believe Adobe Reader has its own sandbox so this might seem a bit weird... but at least one thing Chrome has going for it that Reader has not is that Chrome is more likely to be up-to-date

      Not to mention the fact that the Adobe Reader has a long, rich history of serious security defects. The Chrome viewer has a big security advantage over Adobe Reader: It's not feature complete. Adobe has packed so many arcane capabilities into PDFs that it's a nightmare trying to support everything and keep it secure. The Chrome viewer doesn't do all that stuff that's hardly ever used in practice, so there are many classes of security vulnerabilities the dev team doesn't have to worry about. This means that

  • by msobkow (48369) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:25PM (#45439825) Homepage Journal

    When I set a default for a file extension in the OS, I expect the browser to respect that setting. Both Firefox and Chrome are now "bad apples" in the desktop configuration arena. Shame on them both. I see no reason why their implementation would be any more secure than the applications I've already chosen.

    • by Dahan (130247) <khym@azeotrope.org> on Friday November 15, 2013 @10:06PM (#45440479)
      So when you click a link to a JPG file, does it open in the browser, or does it open in the viewer configured for .jpg in your OS? I'd wager that for just about everyone, it opens in the browser. What's different about PDFs that you think they shouldn't do the same?
    • by swillden (191260)

      I see no reason why their implementation would be any more secure than the applications I've already chosen.

      Well, if the app you've already chosen is Adobe's, you should look at the history of vulnerabilities on it and Chrome's viewer. You'll see reason.

    • If your default browser is IE, every time you click a link to an html page Chrome should launch IE, ignoring the fact that you've explicitly decided to use Chrome at the moment?

      No? How about a jpeg, as Dahan said? Should Chrome display the image, or open Photoshop?

      What's the difference between opening Adobe's software for jpegs and opening Adobe's software for pdfs?

  • by jader3rd (2222716) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:25PM (#45439835)
    I've never heard of anyone having any security issues with Foxit. Plus, the top priority for Foxit is going to be a good PDF viewer, whereas that might not make top priority for a browser.
  • Simple as that (Score:5, Informative)

    by lesincompetent (2836253) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:28PM (#45439857)
    chrome://plugins/
    Chrome PDF Viewer --> Disable.
  • by feufeu (1109929) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:30PM (#45439869)
    "Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can." Replace "mail" by "PDFs"...
  • I've been working on moving much of my on-line life out of the Googleverse. It has proved surprisingly difficult.

    Today I was trying to lose Chrome, and go for another browser. I wasted about an hour and a half trying to sync Firefox between Android and my Mint Linux desktop, [mozillazine.org] then gave up.

    I tried Opera, which does install and sync with ease, and looks great, except that it refuses to display Google Calendar at all well. [threesquirrels.com]

    What I'm finding is that Google has a lock on a lot of things that I use, that
    • by Zumbs (1241138)

      Today I was trying to lose Chrome, and go for another browser. I wasted about an hour and a half trying to sync Firefox between Android and my Mint Linux desktop, [mozillazine.org] then gave up.

      Then stop wasting your time. Use the XMarks addon. It is able to sync bookmarks among a number of browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. It is also available on Android.

  • 1. NotScript seems to be blocking all PDFs on my setup. I didn't get it for that; but that seems to be what it does by default. I'll have to look into it. 2. Google's in-browser PDF viewer is able to handle files that Adobe's can't. The Adobe viewer seems to have some kind of memory management issue. It thrashes my disk on files that Chrome handles just fine. When I have a PDF on the desktop, I drag it to the browser now instead of letting the default association kick in. 3. About that default ass

  • For some insane reason the pdf document thinks it is a web page and has tons and tons of stuff for javascript and hyperlinks etc etc. In fact the holes in pdf is on of the biggest vulnerabilities and if you strictly follow the standard, the same hole would exist in all the platforms. One of the main reasons for not using Adobe reader is to force it to stop following the links. Adobe for some reason resets all those security settings every time I am forced to upgrade Adobe viewer by some insane company polic
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