Release 0.7.8: Brave New World

02.21.09 55 Comments

I could present the usual release notes, talk about the CoreAudio crash on startup that’s been fixed, the Mira/Sofacontrol changes (thanks marklight!), mention the TV/Movies keymap issue that was fixed, explain that the region link to weather settings is now fixed, and that NFO files no longer cause scraping issues. But honestly, I’d rather talk about something else.

This release, one innocent little point difference from the last, has the biggest new Plex feature ever. I’m not just gushing hyperbole here when I say you will never use Plex the same way again.

I’d like to introduce you to the new Plex Media Server:

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Very nice, right? Alexis did an awesome job with the icon. (It also looks a bit like the new Mac Mini, the one with 36 USB ports all around the circular case, but that’s another story.)
So what’s so special about the new Plex Media Server? Well, it connects with the brand new Plex App Store (built by Jon Maddox, the latest talented developer to join our group). The Plex App Store serves plug-ins which are downloaded by the Plex Media Server, and provide a huge amount of online content to Plex.
What content and which sites? Great question. Let’s just say that you won’t be disappointed by the 20 plug-ins that are currently available from the App Store (most of them written by Scott, and the rest by Isaac, James, and myself), and you’ll also be amazed by some of the ones we’re working on behind the scenes.

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There is also great news for developers: writing these plug-ins is amazingly easy. James has done a simply fantastic job writing a Python framework to develop the plug-ins with, and the Plex Media Server provides an easy, XML-based method to display Flash or Silverlight content to Plex. Almost none of the plug-ins are over 100 lines of code, and many are 20-40 lines. We’ll be following this release with lots of technical discussion of the framework, and top-notch documentation.
The plug-ins live in the Plex Media Server’s application support area, and the App Store itself is just another plug-in. The App Store plug-in can browse and install plug-ins, as well as update itself and installed plug-ins with ease, meaning that you’ll always be up to date.
I’ve leave you with three screencasts that Jon Maddox was kind enough to put together, which demo some of the new functionality. Seeing as this is the initial release, expect some glitches, and there are some known issues of which you should be aware (PLEASE READ THESE):
  • There is no support for authentication yet, so certain content or features which require being logged in are not available (e.g. Hulu videos that require you being logged in).
  • You need to make sure you have the Flash plug-in installed for Safari, and you must make sure you don’t have any plug-ins like Safari Adblock installed (possibly Pith helmet as well).
  • You may want to increase your cache settings, as plug-ins like Apple Movie Trailers, TED Talks, and other, stream video in high quality HD video.
  • We have added quite a few new skin features and fixed some bugs in MediaStream, so your mileage in any other skin WILL vary greatly.
  • If a Flash video is unavailable online, Plex will not detect this, and will stall while buffering.

These items will all fixed shortly.

Without further ado, the screencasts, the download, and the source:

And we wouldn’t want to forget a photo of Barkley, who is showing steady improvement from his knee injury. This is a photo from a trip we took with him to San Francisco back in 2006:

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55 Comments

  • Wow, while reading I thought: Is this April 1st? :) But no, it actually works great! Time:LIFE is sooo cool.

    How about adding Flickr/Picasa etc. with a bookmarking and authentication feature?

  • @DigitalG watch the videos on this blog post. the installed apps don’t appear under ‘applications’ (yes, confusing, i know). they show up under their respective categories on the main menu. ‘Hulu’ will appear under ‘Videos’, Google/LIFE will appear under ‘Pictures’, etc.

  • ummm first time user of Plex and it looks nice but just like Boxee can be a little confusing. I’m still having trouble figuring out how/where to add my first feed (eg Hulu). Also, how the heck do you switch music off once something is playing without having to switch off and restart? Also feels a little rough round the edges as mouse use is also a little inconsistent. I’m sure I have to dig deeper to figure this out.

  • Before this release I was switching back and forth from boxee to plex – plex for media i already have archived on my computer and boxee for streaming from the internet. Thanks for letting me get rid of boxee.

  • Thanks for the new release, but I’m having a bit of a problem with Hulu and Twit Live.
    First of all, none of the shows I’ve tried on Hulu don’t play, and Plex crashes if I don’t cancel out.
    Also, any time I try Twit Live, I get the same problem, Plex crashes unless I cancel out. And after I cancel out, and try another app, it says “PATH NOT FOUND OR INVALID.”

    Other than that, everything works great.

  • Great work. Unfortunately the Google Time:LIFE viewer truncates som of the descriptive text when viewing photos :( Can you fix it?

  • You go Barkley boy… good boy !!

    great app. I just love every part of it. Be sure to tell Barkley
    that I love him too !!

  • How exciting!!! Keep up the good work!

  • Thanks!
    This is the future.

  • Wow, you guys really DO aim high don’t you? I couldn’t think of too many ways to make Plex that much better (it was already awesome), but you’ve now shown us all … amazing work!

  • @MILE: they probably want you to disable any adblocker because it is possible that it blocks commercials on say, hulu. (when I experienced this with firefox hulu displayed a message and just waited 30 seconds or so, probably longer most of the time then the commercial would have been) Also, obviously while some users might like this, this would be a reason to not allow the use its content that hulu could object to on its own, w/o being forced to pull it by content providers.

  • Great job, guys… Is anyone working on a BBC iPlayer plugin – preferably with an IP proxy, so you could use it outside the UK? That would be AWESOME!

  • Great job! But I do not understand how to use Plex. I consider myself fairly computer literate, but I really get confused by the interface. It looks great, but I do not understand it.

    I managed to install apps, but how do I “run” them?

  • Thanks for the great work – I love Plex.

  • This is fantastic, thanks to everyone involved for their hard work!

  • 凄い~!

    You are my hero Elan. People in Japan love you and Barkley.

  • Awesome improvements guys.

    Except with this release I’ve been seeing some ugly artifacting when I start playing videos.

    Anybody else seeing this type of behaviour?

  • I don’t see the App Store. What am I doing wrong? I downloaded the latest version but I only see the DVD player and Front Row

  • Still love you guys.

  • It would be handy if the plugins specified if they were region specific or not. Most everyone knows Hulu is US only but others appear to be as well, such as MTV since it doesn’t seem to work for me. These plugins also seem to freeze Plex as the cancel button doesn’t seem to work and I have to force quit the application.

  • Beautiful! While Plex is great for watching video/other pics (and now streaming video), Miro (getmiro.org) is magic for automatically downloading and managing video from the internets. Especially if you add feeds from tvrss. I’d be so happy to see some kind of merge between these two brilliant projects. If, for example, the Plex devs could dig through the Miro code and rip out the aggregating part, provide all Miros content and offer the functionality that tag videos as watched/unwatched and provide it as a plug-in, the world would be even more beautiful! It’s free software, so no legal prob to borrow code, I presume. Keep on doing great stuff! kthnxbye

  • big step further again, thanks guys!
    eyeTV would be great but I guess you guys have your priorities straight as you have gotten this far already ;-)

  • I am really impressed about the simplicity of such a powerful application.
    I would like to ask two questions:
    1. Do you know if the plugin XOT-UZG that can be found in XBMC is already available under App Store?

    2. Where can I find more informations about the Python framework to develop new plug-ins?

  • nice work, just one thing: even when I just play music my van is going on since the last updates. I dont know what to do about this.

  • Have downloaded latest build, #7 build and first build at seperate times. Each one has the same behavior. I drag to applications folder, it installs. I try to open it and it does one bounce like it is opening but ends up doing nothing. The crash log says something about library not loaded. also there is no folder in libriary/application support that is labeled Plex. Any help on this would be great. I am running it on a Macbook Pro.
    Thanks

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