A PDF reader needs to be fast at operations like rendering text, drawing lines, blitting images – all the things that browsers need to be fast at too. In other words, browser are already optimized for the task at hand, they just need to be told how to do it.
The project is called pdf.js and is available for everyone to see on GitHub
. It has been in development for about a month now, but there's already an early demo available at people.mozilla.org/~gal/test.html
that you can check out for yourself. There are still glitches and rendering artifacts, but it's definitely a good start, especially for four weeks of work.
The first order of business is to get pdf.js to render PDFs "natively" in Firefox itself, and the team believes it can get the most commonly used PDF features working in less than three months. The group will start by making a Firefox extension available to interested users that enables inline PDF rendering using pdf.js.