Plex/Eight Released

05.10.09 74 Comments

First of all, happy Mother’s day to all the Plex moms out there! (Remember, Plex Dads, a new Plex release is not a substitute for flowers or a nice call.)

We’re very pleased to announce the first release of our stable Plex/Eight series. It’s been a long road, but we’re quite happy with the stability, especially given the massive amount of new functionality. You can download it here.

We’ve already started work on the Plex/Nine series, and you’ll be seeing lots of change between here and the official “1.0” release. We know what areas need the most work (the library, usability) and we have a few surprises up our sleeve which we hope you’ll enjoy.

We’d like to give a really, really big shout out to our growing community of plug-in developers. The response to the new Framework has been tremendous, the plug-ins are flowing in, and we’ve gotten great feedback from everyone. Thank you all very much! As promised, James and I are heads down on documentation and will have something for you to look at very shortly. We’re also working on some updates to the App Store to improve the “regionalization” which will make it easier for our users around the world to get to the plug-ins that work for them. A pox on content providers who limit the content to only certain areas of our little blue planet.

This release consists primary of bug-fixes, but we’ve added the usual treats. As Chuck Norris said, “Anything else would be less than civilized”.

  • NEW: Have you ever been annoyed by a video playing with subtitles even though the audio track is in your native language? Or having to look through all the 24 subtitle tracks in the MKV just to find the one in your language? Annoying, right? Plex/Eight auto-manages subtitles and audio tracks based on your language setting (i.e. the OS X language setting). For example, if your language is set to English, videos with English audio tracks won’t display any subtitles, whereas a foreign film will display English subtitles. If the language is set to Portuguese (Olá amigos!), an English film with lots of subtitles will auto-pick the Portuguese ones.

    Likewise, for those of you encoding dual 5.1/stereo tracks in your MP4 files, Plex will pick the AC3 track if the receiver is AC3-capable and the tracks have language tags.

    These options are both on by default, and they will not override per-video settings. Also, note that some video files don’t have language information for the audio and subtitle tracks. The code tries to be clever, but it’s not magic.

  • NEW: James whipped up a cool animation for the Now Playing screen. Those of you with Plasma screens can now rest easy. The animation triggers every two minutes. Drink some nice red wine and stare at the screen.
  • NEW: There are more and more of you using the Plex Media Server to stream your iTunes libraries to Plex, and a common request was to update the play counts and mark podcasts as viewed. In Plex/Eight, Plex now “scrobbles” plays to the Media Server, which updates the iTunes library (note that since it uses AppleScript, you’ll need to have iTunes running on the machine where the Plex Media Server is, and it will be started by OS X if it’s not). This feature is off by default, and you can enable it in the Media Server section of the preferences.
  • NEW: Anamorphic zoom mode. Falk Husemann submitted a patch to change the 16×9 zoom mode to work with projectors which have anamorphic lenses attached. You can read more about this sort of set up here. You can enable this new mode by setting <anamorphiczoom>true</anamorphiczoom> in your advanced settings.

And the fixes:

  • FIX: Sometimes album art didn’t show up in the Now Playing window.
  • FIX: Remote fanart (e.g. iTunes) wasn’t showing up.
  • FIX: Very slow start/skipping tracks for music. We made some improvements to the Media Server, and the ever-skilled jmarshall committed a nice related fix which we pulled. You won’t believe how much faster it is.
  • FIX: Speaking of performance, a big shout out to Jens Kleemann, who has been working for a while on analyzing and improving the performance of Plex. A few weeks ago, he told me that one of the main sources of the idle CPU usage was in some code that was locking and unlocking a mutex. He even sent over a patch that did less locking, and Plex took less CPU with the fix. Now this didn’t seem right to me, as a thread that is blocked on a mutex doesn’t consume any CPU. One night I looked over the mutex code, and I noticed a line of debug code that got the thread’s Mach port. I’d put this line in when I was trying to track down a threading issue *ages* ago, and it wasn’t used anymore. Except, as it turns out, it was responsible for consuming about a quarter of Plex’s CPU usage when idle. So a big thank you to Jens, and a big apology from me. Just think how many trillion of instructions your computers have executed for no good reason because of me. I might actually be responsible for global warming.
  • FIX: We’ve changed the thumbnailing code for photos to use a single thumb instead of four, by popular request.
  • FIX: Nikolas Stephan kindly submitted a patch so that scrobbling works with tracks played from the Plex Media Server.
  • FIX: Nikolas Stephan also submitted a patch which allows selecting folders for the photo screensaver, apparently something which used to work.
  • FIX: We restart the Plex Media Server when we quit after 5.1 play (or upon restart after a crash). This is needed to work around a CoreAudio/WebKit issue, and you would have seen this issue as WebKit videos playing back without audio.
  • FIX: We automatically remove empty iLife sources, so if you don’t have Aperture, it won’t show up, for example.
  • FIX: GlimmerBlocker no longer prevents WebKit plug-ins from working.
  • FIX: The new wider list view works with the “hide thumbs” option.
  • FIX: Some SSA subtitles (e.g. Chinese) didn’t render correctly.
  • FIX: James made some fixes to background music; the volume level of the background music shouldn’t be quieter than regular music, and fixed a couple of problems with it not restarting properly. Also, it’ll fade out when starting a video.
  • FIX: The fonts have been fixed in the Now Playing window for the Original font set.
  • FIX: A possible crash in the Plex Media Server.
  • FIX: Better keyboard mappings for the Now Playing window and Mira (thanks to marklight!)
  • FIX: We pulled the latest IMDB scraper from XBMC (thanks to aaron and Jay for testing it out!) and this should fix it bringing down incorrect posters when the IMPA awards option is on.
  • We also pulled a good bunch of code fixes from XBMC. (No Aeon fixes, sorry.)

Next up will be a big release of new and enhanced plug-ins, and then back to work on Plex/Nine.

Today also happens to be Barkley’s forth birthday. We brought him to the beach for the first time since his injury around five months ago. He swam, caught a few waves, and then rolled around in the sand in pure delight.

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  • Speaking of uPnP, I already purchased a license for Nullriver Software’s MediaLink ( so I can stream my movie collection to my PS3.

    It used to work just fine in tandem with Plex, but I noticed that recently, the PS3 seems to have stopped detecting its presence. Anyone know if this could be due to a conflict with uPnP functionality in the latest version of Plex?

    • @twyrick: You might want to check that the Plex UPnP server is disabled, it’s possible those two things could conflict.

      @N.R.: No disrespect meant to non-English speakers. The assumption I made was that the majority of non-English users would prefer to see subtitles in their own language. This goes for English as well, since I’d like to see a French Film with English subtitles, not French ones (unless I happen to be learning French, which is a minority viewpoint).

      Perhaps what you’re saying is that there should be one more rule added: “If there are no subtitles available in the user’s native language, and the audio is not in the user’s native language, display subtitles if they match the audio language.”

      Can I get some comments from others, English and non-English speaking, to see if this might be reasonable behavior? Again, we’re not trying to be all things to all people, just come up with a reasonable set of defaults.

  • You guys are doing great work! Any chance of seeing Emulator support in the final 1.0 release? That’s all I’m waiting on to ditch my Xbox1’s XBMC 😀

  • Dude, that’s not really nice about those subtitles! Not everyone is american on this planet, and you have thousands of users who don’t speak English natively, we NEED those english subtitles on english audio tracks! This should be off by default!

  • “I might actually be responsible for global warming.” I LOL’d at work after reading that one Elan. Great release you guys! Nice!

  • @elan:

    The subs/audio issue is tricky. Maybe you should do a poll. Respecting the per-video preferences is OK, but you should do something about the default tracks in MKV. All my movies are in MKV, and I set up the MKV default tracks so they fits my personal preferences. I don’t want to watch a movie in my native language (Spanish), but in the movie’s native language with Spanish subtitles, or English subs if Spanish are not available (but obviously without subs if it’s a Spanish movie). I would like in the application subs/audio priorities preferences, with sane defaults extracted from a poll. For example:

    Native tongue: Spanish (it’s in the appearance preferences anyway)
    Audio: 1) File default track
    2) Spanish
    3) English
    Subs: 1) Spanish
    2) English
    3) File default track

    And never display subs by default (but, as always, respecting per video preferences) if current audio is the native tongue.

    Subtitles support is very important to me. I get the creeps with dubbed movies. It’s like “WTF are they doing with their mouths?”

    Just my 2cents.

  • @elan Thanks, the M key works. I did randomly press a bunch of keys when I first noticed the issue, but M apparently wasn’t one of them… lol

    Either way, now I know exactly how everything’s mapped as I’ve checked the XML 😀

    However, the Apple Remote issue is still there it seems, and the Apple Remote.xml file hasn’t been modified from the previous version.

  • Hi,

    as non English native I prefer to use subtitles in English while watching movies along with English soundtrack. When watching movies with Finnish audiotrack, no need to use subtitles at all.

    There probably will be two camps on this one, people from countries that use dubbing and countries that are using subtitles.

    But as such I do not mind the feature too much as long as it can be turned off.

  • I am madly, disturbingly in love with this app (my girlfriend has tried to stab my computer multiple times).

    This release does seem slower, though. For example, when I choose something in Hulu, YouTube, or Escapist, it hangs and freezes the screen before going to the next menu. I’m running the original MacBook Pro 2.5Ghz dual-core and 2GB RAM; this issue wasn’t present in 0.7.15.

    Another complaint/feature idea that would make my life perfect: separate video options for standard and high definition. I have a ridiculous amount of videos, both SD and HD, and it would be great not to have to reset viewing preferences every time. Something along the lines of QuickTime’s view options would be perfect. Come to think of it, QuickTime’s panoramic view would be a fantastic addition as well.

    Anyway, brilliant app, fantastic work. I suppose guarding my computer day and night from a vengeful spouse has made me overly critical.

  • IDLE: I was hoping this will be fixed but it still eating 46% of CPU when Idle, 52% when playing music on macbook (last year bought)

    Model Identifier: MacBook3,1, Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor Speed: 2.2 GHz Memory: 2,5 GB

    as you know these machines get hot and make noise, it makes no use for music e.g. in quiet room comparing to iTunes

    In Czech language the font is missing Czech some characters – like žýáščř which was ok couple releases ago – sorry to not post sooner.

    Anyway – great work all of you and my advocacy for you will not stop! :-) THANKS!

    • @Marek: Improved CPU, but definitely not fixed. Hopefully you see better than 0.7.15? In terms of the Czech strings, we did some bulk editing, so it’s possible that we messed up some of the string, please feel free to submit fixed strings files. Cheers, and thanks for the kind words!

  • Hi Elan,

    Thanks a lot for this new release. I tested it on my macbook pro 2.3ghz roughly and I think I will update my mediacenter tonight.
    For the subtitle option. Well, I did’nt check that till now. I only hated the default behavior of plex/xbmc when going fast forward in a film (cursor to right or up) the subtitles where activated automaticaly.
    For subtitle usage: Well when I want to watch a movie in my native language (german) I would use a dubbed version. Most of the time I want to watch it in its native language (e.g. english or italian) because of the bad translation that is used very often.
    I normally never use subtitles at all, but there might be occations when some guy (e.g. from the south of the u.s.) mumbles or has a very strange accent, so that I can’t understand anything, then I want to know what he’s talking. And I don’t think that it makes any sense to turn “german” subtitles on on this case, because its only his way of talking I don’t understand and not the language at all.

    Nevertheless great job and Thanx

  • Olá Amigos!

    Congratulations on this product… heck, I’ve convinced people to by MACs just for this software. I run it on a 2Ghz C2D Mini. Regarding the subtitles, I like the idea, just don’t figure out what language I speak based on my OSX language. I leave mine in English but for me, subtitles should be 1st choice portuguese, 2nd choice English, 3rd choice no subtitles. I NEVER want the movies dubbed, even if the mkv contains a portuguese track.

    Also, I’m still running 0.5 latest. Can I upgrade with little concern for stability? The thousands I’ve spent on my HT system were finally justified (in my wife’s mind) when she started using Plex. So to me, stability means budget ;-).

    Congrats on this great product, and thanks so much for your dedication.

  • I don’t know if this is the right place to report issues like this, but I have a dual audio output setup ( optical to my receiver and a Plantronic 590 paired via Bluetooth) and since 0.8 release, Plex keep trying to force select the bluetooth connection, regardless of my settings both on Plex and OSX. It overrides my choice and cause video to stutter and freeze ( not a hardware issue, I’m running this on a last rev. mini with 4Gb RAM.)

    If you guys could take a look on this, would be great because for now I have to unpair my headphones everytime I want the sound streamed to the receiver.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  • I would also like to see a slight change in the subtitle / audio language handling. My native language is English, but I watch a lot of subtitled videos. Using Japanese for an example, I have a bunch of files with both English and Japanese audio tracks. I’d like to be able to always prefer the Japanese audio track and enable English subtitles, even if there is an English audio track. If that default language doesn’t exist, I’d like for the application to choose the default audio track with no subtitles.

    Basically, instead of reading the default language from the system settings, I’d like an advanced setting to be able select a different default audio language and subtitle language instead of just using the system default. Actually, an ordered list, like mplayer users, would probably be best, although I would settle for being able to change the default audio language apart from the system language.

  • Wow!! I am using the newest MacMini with 1080p Sony TV for like a month now. It was big dissapointment to discover that the upscaling of most DVD quality movies to fullscreen results in stuttering video unbearable to watch. In any player! Even VLC couldn’t make it smooth.
    But the new update of Plex fixes it!!! The movies run smooth as butter. I guess it’s due to the performance fix… Amazing! Thanks so much to the developers!

  • Plex – *the* killer app on my Mac Mini HTPC 😉

    Unfortunately, TED Talks stopped working recently. I’m not sure if it is related to the Plex/eight update that was installed, but all of the TED Talks lists come up empty. No videos listed at all ;-(

    Any ideas? Thanks!

    • @EdRandom: Looks like a site change, we’ll push a fix shortly!

      • @EdRandom: Ryan McNally fixed it up and we pushed the update out, you should get it shortly.

  • ur dog looks scared! :) funny beast

  • @Elan, @Ryan: thanks for the quick fix, off to watch TED! 😉

  • weee when can i get it to xp (sorry don`t have mac)

  • Hi guys

    first of all, thank you soo much for this incredible application, I really really appreciate the effort you put into this, and as someone said before, I convinced 5-7 people to buy MacMini just to use this app… I really love it !

    Two/three notes :

    As Chancellor said before, I have the same ‘problem’ or wish about doing something with HD and SD movies. I have a lot of TV shows (Friends) in SD (yes there are people out there still watching them) which I always have to change the Zoom/perspective things… it’s not a pain yet, it’s just a little bit annoying, that’s all ;-)…

    About the subtitles, if I have the chance to switch them off, I’m happy (just dl the new version, will start playing around tonight). I have a lot of movies in single files (.MKV). My language on the Mac in German, but I use Plex in English, 99% of my movies are English and I watch them only in English.. I’ll check it out tonight.

    The last thing I didn’t try yet is the ‘watching of a real DVD’. But for that I have to read trough all the forums to see what’s the best solution to watch a DVD when using Plex on MacMini controlled only by a Logitech 1100 remote.

    Hey, thanks a lot again for this incredible app and happy Birthday to Barkley !!

    Greetings from Switzerland.

  • What’s happend with the auto ative external .srt file. Now i have to select it manualy.

    • @Arnold: It might be the new auto-subtitle selection code, you can disable that in the video/subtitle settings.

  • Very happy with the app, thank you for the hard work. My dream of the perfect system is nearly there….really looking forward to the next releases.

    One request that would make life easier though. I have a massive music library in itunes and have found that Genius is great way to keep playlists fresh and to find songs and artist that can get lost in the mix. On top of that I use Airport Express in different rooms in the house to share the music. Any chance of adding a Genius selection and the Multiple Speaker selection? Its minor with all the other great additions you have been putting in, but just had to ask.
    Keep up the great work…everyone is blown away when they see it. It has become a major talking point at every party we have!

  • Why you messed up the subtitle’s options? I cannot get subtitles with english audio by default… I have to open every time for every movie the the browser and browse for the .srt file in order subs to work…

    Why such a mess? The auto stream subs doesnt work at all… The same name srt wont be recognised by plex anymore… whats goin on with these settings?

    You made a great work with the app, thanks for all of your hard work but why such a mess in subs part??? Please fix that, or at least add a settings for all of as we dont want the new sub feature…



  • i would agree the new update isnt great, plex is running on my mac mini which is connected to a hdtv. version 0.7 was working great and it provided a great resolution, now with version 0.8 the bottom and left side of the screen are missing the edges! quite annoying, tried changing the resolution but it doesnt do anything, i only have the choice of the resolution that cuts the edges off or using it in windowed mode!

    any ideas?

    • @sixones: I’m sure we could help you out in the forums. Nothing’s changed in this respect between the two versions, so I suspect it’s either your Plex overscan configuration, or your TV settings.

  • @elan found it was either the latest update to os x or my tv! managed to solve the issue though by changing some settings on the mini and the tv!

  • no Tiger? No PPC? Do you think there are only lame machines out here with G4 and G5?!

    • @Kenneth: The small amount of people using Tiger and/or PPC machines is so small (percentage-wise) as to make the effort supporting them not worthwhile.

  • it bugs me that after installing PLEX 0.8.5 and the PlexAeon skin i can only get English subtitles when searching And changing my OSX default language to my native tongue (Danish) it still won’t find anyhing else that english subtitles.
    I would like to have an english OSX and still be able to search danish subtitles in Plex at the same time.

  • Even though I tried setting my OSX system language to my native tongue – Danish, PLEX won’t find any other subtitles than English (I use the PlexAeon skin to get the subtitles menu after updating to Plex 0.8.5). Is it a bug in Plex that suddenly only get English subtitles from

  • Same question here (I’m French). Anyone?

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