Firefox to doctor Pepper so it can run Chrome's PDF, Flash plugins

Mozilla decides to crib some of Google's browser interfaces

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Mozilla is investigating hooking up Google Chrome's builtin plugins to Firefox.

The foundation's Project Mortar hopes to spare its developers from building and improving non-core components of Firefox by instead providing the same software interfaces that Chromium, the open-source engine of Chrome, provides.

That will allow Firefox to run Chrome's PDF viewer and Flash player, saving Moz's programmers from having to develop and maintain their own.

"Project Mortar seeks to reduce the time Mozilla spends on technologies that are required to provide a complete web browsing experience, but are not a core piece of the web platform," explained Mozilla senior director of engineering Johnny Stenback on Friday.

"We will be looking for opportunities to replace such technologies with other existing alternatives, including implementations by other browser vendors."

Specifically, under Moz's plan, Firefox will support Google's Pepper API so it can run pdfium – Chrome's open-source native PDF viewer – and the Adobe-Google-built Pepper Flash player – which runs inside a sandbox to limit the damage malicious code can do if it exploits a security hole in the plugin.

Right now, the Pepper API support in Firefox is at the proof-of-concept stage. Mozilla is planning to get the code into public versions of Firefox in the coming months. Developers hope to begin integrating the PDF reader in the first half of next year.

If Firefox and the Pepper API work out well together, Mozilla will "completely remove NPAPI support" from the open-source browser, said Stenback. ®


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