Plex blog

Seek and Plex Shall Find: Leveling up our web app

04.07.16 309 Comments

I know it’s only been a week since our last blog post, and we’ve actually spent most of that time trying to teach our cats to flush. But we do have a couple of dog owners and even some heretical non-pet-owners in our midst, and they’ve been hard at work finishing up a few most-awesome enhancements to our web app. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been busy evolving it, and just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, this particular rev of the web app won’t get there all at once. As they say in Rome, “citius, altius, fortius!” or, as they say in Toy Story, “to infinity, and beyond!”

We do have a brand new dashboard for you today, which brings a beautiful new look and feel as well as new technical underpinnings. As a wise person once said: “The right Javascript framework to use is the one you weren’t using last week” so we’ve started using the most awesome React. You’ll notice lots of subtle fades and animations throughout the new portions of the web interface. For example, change an item’s poster on the dashboard, and watch it flip in nervous excitement. (You probably won’t notice the massive refactor of the underlying data models that went along with this, paving the way for future success. We get that.)

For starters, you can now access all the most excellent new discovery features right on the dashboard. I love using it for music while I work, being reminded of artists I haven’t played in a while, or my most played albums from prior months.

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Next up: mouse, trackpad, and touch users rejoice, because you can finally fling the horizontal lists around like they deserve!


We also added a feature which has been requested a lot over the years, a poster zoom slider. Because one size doesn’t fit all.

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Last, but not least, we’d love to introduce you to the brand spanking new, amazingly cool live search. We dove deep, scaled great heights, and emerged with something we feel is truly special. Let’s see why.

Speedy: The new search is fast. Really, really fast. Most operations complete in tens of milliseconds, across a hundred thousand media items. As you type, results appear immediately, at the speed of thought (assuming you think as slow as you type). For the sake of comparison, this is up to 50-75 times faster than it used to be. And you know what your computer does with all that spare time? The lazy #$%# SLEEPS. Which means we’re probably back on Al Gore’s Christmas list!

Complete: We search genres, actors, directors, playlists, as well as all the obvious media titles. It’s never been easier to jump to all of Ahh-nold’s movies, or see all your Jazz.

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Forgiving: We’ve incorporated an advanced spell-checker into your searches. Why? Because “KUROSAWA” is hard to spell. That’s why. So if you type “korisawa” we’ll match it anyway, and not make fun of you. Not even passive-aggressively, like Google with its “Did you mean?” crap. OF COURSE I MEANT. IT’S HARD TO SPELL.

2016-04-06 at 10.35 PM

Intelligent: Because the new search is so damn fast, it’s like we have spare time on our hands to do more work for you. So we figured we’d bring you contextual search results. So for example, if you search for “Pernice”, we’ll return “Pernice Brothers” as the artist result, but we’ll also go ahead and return your most-listened to albums and tracks from the artist. If you type “Arnold” you’ll get a result for the actor, but also the most recently added movies he’s in.


Bonus: Hit command/ctrl-enter to play a selected search result. Additionally hold down shift to shuffle. Because we know you like doing things with keyboard shortcuts. Or just access the overflow menu with the mouse. Be that way.

This blog post approved by Barkley J Bonestein.

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Best Platform of the People Gets Life-Changing Update

03.31.16 48 Comments

Dear fellow Plexians, it’s been far too long. So where do we go and what do we do when you don’t hear from us for a while on the blog? Are we growing really impressive facial hair while playing with our new VR headsets? Collecting bitters for our home bars? Teaching our cats to use the toilet (minus flushing, which would obviously require opposable thumbs) [Ed: not strictly true]?

Actually, none of the above.

We’re generally doing two things while we’re quiet: working hard on improving our existing suite of awesome apps, or holed up in a cold-war-era nuclear bunker working on mind-blowingly cool secret new things. It gets cold down there, and the food’s not great, so I’m pretty psyched they let me out to write this blog post. Hello, sun!

Today, we’re going to share with you a massive update to one of our most popular apps.

Ever since we launched the Roku app many years ago, we’ve struggled to find the right balance between embracing the platform and full-on Plex-style customization. One of the last holdouts was the actual media player itself. The Roku player is very capable, but using it meant we couldn’t offer things like live stream and quality switching, chapter selection, queue editing, or more informative on-screen displays. For god’s sake, we were unable to display a clock with the current time, or the time the current item would end at (the humanity!). In a nutshell, using the Roku player meant that we couldn’t bring our loyal users many of the things that matter most to you. So we’re thrilled to unveil our solution at long last: a fully custom, Plexy media player experience on the Roku.

This update comes with a lot of other fixes, updates, and tweaks. Some fancy subtitle handling, enhancements to remote control and flinging (media now loads faster than ever!), and much more. Feast your eyes on these sweet screens, and read over all the details below the fold.

Plex for Roku Movie Seek

Plex for Roku Movie Chapters

Plex for Roku Movie Play Queue

Plex for Roku Movie Settings


  • New video player – excludes Roku LT (2400, 2450) and Roku HD (2500)
  • Updated Video Overlay (OSD) – Now with 100% more awesome
  • View and change settings in player
  • View and select chapters in player
  • View, select and modify video queue in player
  • Skip videos using in player controls
  • Shuffle videos in player
  • Repeat one or all videos in player
  • Direct Stream/Transcode using Matroska streaming instead of HLS
  • Support to copy DTS, AC3 and EAC3 audio streams while transcoding video
  • Support to copy compatible HEVC/VP9 and 4k video while transcoding audio (Roku 4)
  • Transcoding incompatible subtitles (copy video instead of convert)
  • Select media versions within player (including channels)
  • Support to use Plex screensaver while video is paused
  • Include video stream in the video settings
  • Show stream selection count (availability) in video settings
  • Support audio, video, and subtitle stream selection via Plex Companion
  • Add tri-state subtitle preference – Burn Subtitles: [Always, Automatic [default], Only image formats]
  • Add “Online” quality preference (channels, watch later, Vevo, trailers, etc)
  • Support to search within channels
  • Support to handle remote keyboard entry (mobile Roku app)


  • Flinging media when screen saver is active
  • Improve loading time exiting screensaver
  • Available player controls (in channel and Plex Companion)
  • Only show “Play Next” if a Play Queue exists
  • Avatar background on user selection screen
  • Subtitle sync while transcoding
  • Possible crash marking as watched
  • Playback with mono audio using PMS 0.9.14 or greater
  • Transcoding WL/R content if a transcode server is available
  • Improve multi-part playback support
  • Better handle 1080p60 playback
  • TV play queues weren’t advancing
  • No audio during playback if audio sample rate is low
  • Watch Later and Recommendations playback failed while connected to a shared server
  • Add support to Direct Play 5.1 AAC/AC3 when the Roku is set to stereo
  • Roku 4 supports downmixing 5.1 AAC audio
  • Roku TV supports downmixing 5.1 AAC and AC3 audio
  • Bump default quality preference (specific to Roku model)
    • 4Mbps local/online, 3Mbps remote: Roku LT, Roku HD, Roku Stick
    • 8Mbps local/online, 4Mbps remote: Roku 2 [HD, XD, XS], Roku 1, Roku 2, Roku SE
    • 12Mbps local/online, 4Mbps remote: Other Rokus
  • [music] Repeat in the audio player
  • [music] Button status color for shuffle/repeat
  • [music] Smooth the Now Playing progress bar animation a bit
  • [music] Show mini player when adding items to an empty queue
  • [music] Adding a single item to the Play Queue
  • [music] Anti-aliasing issue on now playing screen when toggling controls
  • [music] Progress time (better lyric sync)
  • [music] Playback of FLAC 192kHz files (transcode)
  • [music] Used timed lyrics first if available
  • [music] Do not direct play Apple Lossless (ALAC) audio (ALAC may cause a reboot)

Barkley loves the Roku. And the beach. Above all, the beach.

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