Mozilla quietly released Firefox 19 this week. Its biggest selling point is a built-in PDF viewer (like Google Chrome does), which makes me more comfortable than having Acrobat Reader installed–Mozilla is generally faster at fixing security holes than Adobe. Besides that, the built-in reader is fast. No waiting for Acrobat to launch. Short documents like IRS form 1040 display very quickly, though it wasn’t so crazy about me throwing the 237-page NIST 800-53 (if you’d like some light reading) at it. I closed the tab and revisited it, and it loaded the second time.

So this is an update you want. You may be wise to wait a day or two for it to stabilize (Firefox 18 was rapidly updated to 18.0.1 and 18.0.2 after its release), but being able to ditch Acrobat Reader (or leave it installed but only use it when absolutely necessary) definitely is appealing. Update it this weekend, maybe.

Firefox as a whole loads faster now too (though if you keep it in a ramdisk like I do, you may not notice). But I always like things to get faster. A computer can never be too fast or too inexpensive. Who wouldn’t agree?

The PDF viewer works by converting the PDF to HTML5. The designer in me is a little uncomfortable with that–some documents are likely to not render perfectly–but the security troll in me couldn’t be happier, because parsing data and converting it to another format, then displaying the conversion, is generally a very good way of handling dangerous data.

Now the question I have to answer (and you should be asking, too) is how necessary Flash still is.