PSPDFKit for Web Standalone deployment runs completely in the browser. It uses WebAssembly and falls back to plain JavaScript (asm.js) to render PDF files directly on the client. Our Overview page explains the differences in deployment and our FAQ offers a comparison of the benefits of each solution.

Performance Considerations

WebAssembly is intermediate code that needs to be compiled in the browser. We use various advanced techniques to improve performance. See the blog post Optimizing WebAssembly Startup Time for more on this. Additionally, you can use our Real-World WebAssembly Benchmark to test the performance of your browser and OS.

Initial loading performance on modern machines is in the range of 3 – 9 seconds. Once the component is loaded, switching documents is nearly instant. Browsers that support WebAssembly-structured cloning and IndexedDB will only require ~0.5 seconds for subsequent reloads.

This table shows the average download time for the WebAssembly artifacts (~9 MB, ~3.7 MB gzipped) for different network conditions:

Network Speed (Mbit/s) Download Time (s) Download Time (s, gzipped)
Broadband 50 1.5 0.59
LTE 15 4.8 1.97
Fast 3G 6 12 4.93

Source for average speeds (Ofcom): Broadband (2018), Mobile (2014)

These figures apply only to the first time the page is loaded, as subsequent requests will be much faster since the browser cache will be used.

WebAssembly Support

In 2017, all browsers started supporting WebAssembly (see WebAssembly: A New Hope), and since 2018 it’s been getting really fast.

Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler helps decrease even the initial loading time to around half of what other browsers require.

Update 20 August 2018: Google released Liftoff, a new baseline compiler for WebAssembly in V8. The blog post includes specific benchmarks for PSPDFKit, showing a 56%+ faster initialization time.

Preloading WebAssembly Artifacts

Standalone deployments can make use of the PSPDFKit.preloadWorker function to fetch WebAssembly artifacts in advance so that when the actual document is loaded they are already available. This can greatly enhance the user experience by minimizing the time the user has to wait for these files to load.

If you don’t open a PDF document right away after loading PSPDFKit, consider boosting subsequent document loading time by using PSPDFKit.preloadWorker.

PSPDFKit is committed to being at the forefront of this innovative technology, and our goal is to make standalone deployment as fast as server-based deployment.