The Road to Alexandria (part 1): Introduction - Plex Blog

The Road to Alexandria (part 1): Introduction

| 24 Mar 2010 | by 161 Comments

(First of all, a sincere apology for not writing sooner. Communication is important, and I’ve sorely lapsed in my communication with the Plex community. This may have appeared as a lack of progress on Plex, but let me assure you, it’s entirely the opposite. We have some amazing things to share with you this year, and we’re only getting started.)

As most of you know, for the last year we’ve been working hard on best-in-class support for online media. Since we released the first version of the Plex Media Server with support for plug-ins, there have been hundreds of plug-ins written, and more than 1.4 million plug-ins downloaded from our store. We strongly believe that our platform is the easiest way on the planet to get media from a website to your living room TV.

On the other hand, many people who first see Plex are impressed most by how it handles your local media. To see a file on your hard drive spring to life with posters, fan art, and rich metadata is a wondrous thing indeed. Navigating through your library in various ways, seeing what episodes of a TV Show you haven’t watched, browsing through movie summaries and ratings, these things are all magical compared with browsing a lifeless Finder window.

The success of our platform for online media, coupled with our passion for building the best possible product, led us to focus our attention and energy in the last months on local content. Now as you may know, the library in Plex/Eight is based almost entirely on XBMC code. The XBMC library is quite possibly the best in the world, especially compared with other pieces of media center software. So the first question was: enhance or rewrite? At the end, we decided, just like with our plug-in framework, to throw out the existing code and rewrite it from scratch.

The ground up rewrite not only results in an extremely powerful library for personal content, but also sets the stage for providing many benefits beyond just the library itself. The latest major revision of the Plex Media Server, which incorporates the library, provides many other new capabilities under the hood that will allow us and developers to build some seriously cool new things.

This first post will serve as an attempt to explain the high-level features. Of course, the most important thing of all is its name. We decided to name the Plex Library after the Royal Library of Alexandria, the most famous library of the ancient world. (Naysayers may point out that the library was eventually destroyed, but hey, it lasted for hundreds of years!)

Here are some of the features of the new library:

  • Decentralized: This was very important to us. The XBMC library is coupled to the media center itself. In Alexandria, the Plex Media Server stores all the data, and serves it out via an HTTP/XML interface. In this way, multiple Plex applications can share a library, or multiple libraries. You can do cool things like stop watching a movie on one client and resume on another.
  • Flexible: As opposed to the XBMC library with its limiting Movies and TV areas, Alexandria allows a library to have unlimited sections. For example, you might have a “Documentaries” section, a “Home Movies” section, an “Anime” section, and a “Foreign Films” section, all configured to suit the media.
  • Open: As mentioned before, the data from the library is available via an HTTP interface to the Plex Media Server. In addition, a new class of plug-ins called Metadata Agents have been developed, which are responsible for finding and retrieving information about your media from the Internet. Agents already exist for IMDB, TheMovieDB, TheTVDB, and others. Agents can retrieve any sort of data, such as TV theme music, subtitles, and song lyrics. The agents can be combined and arranged so that the resulting information is a customizable amalgam. We’ve also added a new class of entities called Scanners, which are responsible for identifying media on your drives. This means that even if you have a completely different file system structure to your media, you can write a few lines of Python code and integrate it with Alexandria.
  • Unified: In Alexandria, even if a movie has no entry on IMDB (for example), it still sits alongside those movies that do. There is no more “file mode” and “library mode”. Everything in a library section, regardless of how much metadata it has, is a first class citizen of the library. This also allows content like home movies to live in the library, have their own fan art, posters, summaries, and other metadata.
  • Robust: One of the problems with the old library is that a change to the IMDB site, for example, could cripple the scraper and prevent new content from being added. Since the metadata agents and scanners live in Plex plug-in bundles, they are auto-updated from our site, so we can quickly push a fix. Additionally, Alexandria is flexible enough such that even if a metadata provider like TheTVDB is down, new episodes are still added (and somewhat magically, may even get full metadata!)
  • Developer friendly: The old scrapers were an enormous pain to develop, maintain, and even understand. We’ve built the new agents on top of our proven plug-in framework, which relies on modern features like XPath to make it easier than ever to bring metadata to your media.
  • User friendly: There are a number of features which make Alexandria a pleasure for users. The library management is centered around the Plex Media Manager built into the Plex Media Server, which makes it easy to add library sections. Once added, these sections show up instantly on all Plex clients in the house. The Media Manager makes it easy to maintain your media, correct matches, tweak the metadata, customize the artwork, and more.

This, in summary, is Alexandria. I’m sure the first question will be “When can I have it?” We are quite far along with development, and we have released early builds to a select group of testers, who have been extremely helpful with their feedback and help. I’m using it full-time on my Mini, and used it to watch the latest episode of Lost last night. There are, of course, many things to clean up, fix, and add, but it won’t be too long now before we open up the testing to more people.

Thanks again for your patience. I’ll write more soon, and cover lots more of the details of Alexandria. Until then, I’ll leave you with some quotes from the first group of testers:

“Setting up sources is MUCH MUCH MUCH easier!!”

“NIIIIICEEEEE!!!!”

“This is going to be soooo good!!”

“ho-ly sh*t! I can read and understand this!”

“PC users are going to want a Mac. This is way ahead of XBMC now”

“This is just … WOW!!!”

“That is fantastic! Exactly what we need.”

“This looks amazing…exactly what is missing”

“You guys, this is f**king amazing”

“Whacking sources before used to be such a pain in the ass. Now it’s no big deal.”

“Wow, this is really nice”

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161 Comments so far

  1. Matt March 24th, 2010 1:58 pm

    Can’t wait to try it out… Especially the library sharing to other clients!

  2. Caitlin March 24th, 2010 1:58 pm

    Yay! I’ve gotten a few friends hooked on Plex and coordinate my home theater & mini with Plex, I’d love to be able to share a library across multiple computers.

  3. lefred March 24th, 2010 2:00 pm

    I’m really excited with this post ! Plex rocks !

  4. Erik Veland March 24th, 2010 2:01 pm

    This is the most exciting news I have heard in ages. I have been a long time supporter in your quest to remove the inherent “geekiness” and thus “macify” the media center. This sounds like just the ticket to get there. Sources was such a pain to set up (and lately I can’t seem to get it to work at all – I probably need to nuke and reinstall).

    XMBC was a nice base, but it was entirely too geeky. (And I am a geek). I am looking forward to testing it. (Hopefully sooner rather than later, as I’d rather start with a new Plex than trying to wack old Plex back into submission).

  5. Raphael Essoo-Snowdon March 24th, 2010 2:03 pm

    This sounds so promising, you guys have really outdone yourselves! Plex is easily the best media center software out there and it just keeps getting better and better. You had me at sharing a library, rewriting PLEX and library sections is the icing on the cake. Alexandria, I welcome you with open arms!

  6. Jerome March 24th, 2010 2:09 pm

    Good work, guys. And, I am fully looking forward to this. :)

  7. Pete March 24th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Awesome news, I LOVE the centralised library idea.
    Now, all we need is someone to combine the awesomeness of Plex9 with the greatness of AirVideo, on the iphone and ipad, and we’ll have one hell of a eco-system!!

    Good work guys

  8. n8o March 24th, 2010 2:54 pm

    I’ve been wanting something like this for a long time. a distributed media system so I can watch movies from multiple computers. press pause and resume on another computer. The only other things I would like to see in the future (maybe we will see them in part 2) are…

    1) Centralized theme, plugin and configuration management. I hate having to configure my theater room with a remote or keyboard. Would be nice if all devices had the option to be in sync that way. would be cool if some how you could have the same pause on one computer and resume from another with internet content.

    2) EPG / Tuner / Other Sources

    3) Stream your personal content online. Great when traveling!

    Just my two cents. You guys rock! Plex is the best hands down.

  9. majid March 24th, 2010 3:15 pm

    awesome!!!!
    will love to try the new version!

  10. wally007 March 24th, 2010 3:31 pm

    Unified and offline – file scraping are going to set this apart. Finally i wont have to explain to my girlfriend WHY new episode is not in TV SHOWS but in VIDEOS. Even my girlfriend now knows about theTVDBs “reliability” :-)

  11. lilyandsadie March 24th, 2010 3:59 pm

    Cannot wait to get a hold of the next version of Plex!

  12. Hooman March 24th, 2010 4:44 pm

    Bring me Plex!! Sounds Amazing!!!

  13. Jethro March 24th, 2010 4:56 pm

    I will be totally willing to be a tester. We use it every single day for hours on end. If my wife can get it all set up easily, then you know it is good.

  14. OddyOh March 24th, 2010 5:01 pm

    Awesome…I’m almost a Plex convert, but it’s just still a little too tricky for daily use in my setup. Sounds like you’ve got all sorts of goodies coming up!

  15. chad March 24th, 2010 5:04 pm

    awesome. very psyched to see this kind of work going on!

  16. Francois March 24th, 2010 5:19 pm

    Have you guys fixed the sound weirdness? I’m using Front Row again due to the incredibly annoying problems with sound levels I can’t seem to fix – some streaming content can’t be made louder of softer, most of my local media is too soft. Ugh.

  17. elan March 24th, 2010 5:56 pm

    @Francois: Make sure you have “Link System Volume” in Preferences > System > Audio if you want the Flash content’s volume to track the Plex volume.

  18. Oliver March 24th, 2010 7:29 pm

    Wow, thats some great news!

  19. vadius45 March 24th, 2010 8:17 pm

    Terrific ! Looking forward to it.
    Is someone already working on a metadata agent for the french community (Ciné-Passion) ?
    I don’t know Python but I’m willing to give it a try.

    Some thoughts :
    - the media server has to run on a mac, hasn’t it ? We’d love to be able to run on a NAS for instance
    - can we export / import the library from Plex 8 to Plex 9 ? Other wording : can we import the NFOs we have edited with much patience.

  20. Martin March 24th, 2010 8:52 pm

    Sounds amazing! Keep up the great work, guys.

  21. corrado March 24th, 2010 9:15 pm

    Great!!!!!

  22. Ed March 24th, 2010 9:26 pm

    I’m afraid I got bored waiting for the promised library and tired of tedious workarounds to add studio and res flags, so I’ve been using XBMC for the last few months. I’ll have another look at this though when it eventually comes out.

  23. Smithcraft March 24th, 2010 9:28 pm

    This looks incredibly promising! I’m sure, beyond any doubt that the Plex team will blow my mind with this!

    SC

  24. Sander March 24th, 2010 9:50 pm

    This sounds really great! Can’t wait to test it out.
    If there is an open slot for beta testers, please let me know!

  25. xain09 March 24th, 2010 9:50 pm

    Very nice! Nice to have to same library on multiple Macs in the house!
    Very good news that “unrecognized” films are now also in the library!
    Any chance of an iPad client? (via upnp and some transcoding?)
    I’m looking forward to all this! GIMME NOW!

  26. Raygan March 24th, 2010 9:52 pm

    Holy crap, I can’t wait for this. My Plex-based Mac Mini media center is one of the most successful and enjoyable hobby projects I’ve ever taken a hand to. Everyone I’ve ever showed it to has been floored.
    I can’t wait to tinker around with the new version!

  27. elan March 24th, 2010 9:56 pm

    @Ed: We have full “media flags” working, and are working with skinners to ensure that all the Plex skins have full support for them.

  28. Edward March 24th, 2010 10:01 pm

    I hope something of Parental Controls is included so that my little kids won’t start watching Hellraiser. Love the clean Plug-in architecture, I’m confident that the metadata-provider stuff will be equally as sophisticated. Can hardly wait…

  29. mikebeecham March 24th, 2010 10:13 pm

    Elan this once again proves why Plex is so popular. The team continue to provide an application that is user-centric to it’s core. As an end-user, I’m so appreciative that you have ME in mind when looking at ways to evolve and improve the application

    I’ve wanted for so long to start tauting Plex to my friends, but in part have not because the pain of showing how to add sources, select scrapers, update the library, etc was too much to bear. I’m so pleased to see the new library becoming a reality because I believe it will set Plex apart from anything else and, more importantly, will allow the end user to access their media in a fresh and easy way!

    Yes, XBMC in one form or another has been a large part of my life, but seasons change. I see Plex very much the forerunner now…a leader and not a follower, and I’m excited on behalf of the community to see what will come within the next 6 months to a year.

    Publicly, thank you to yourself and the team for providing FOR FREE something that is amazing to use and now a very large part of my home life!

  30. JayBird March 24th, 2010 10:19 pm

    Elan, one thing i was wondering is how the new Library will scan for new content i.e When will a new scan be triggered? Will it be quicker to scan for new content than currently?

    Thanks

    Mark

  31. elan March 24th, 2010 10:24 pm

    @JayBird: Right now we’re experimenting with a few options including hourly, daily, manually, and a sophisticated fsevents-based one that triggers a scan instantly when new content is added.

  32. AshTemple March 24th, 2010 10:29 pm

    Good work guys and esp Elan, it must be so hard to build something like this from the ground up and in your spare time! so big thanks for making such a great app. im also glad youre releasing when its ready and now bowing to pressure to just get something out

    Keep up the great work and looking forward to seeing it

  33. micke March 24th, 2010 10:30 pm

    This is so exciting! I can’t tell you how happy I am this wasn’t another post about new plugins (not that there’s anything wrong with those ;) It’s been a long time coming, but it certainly looks like the next Plex will be worth the wait. Keep it up!

  34. elrod March 24th, 2010 10:44 pm

    Awesome awesome, for a moment I thought you had vanished from the planet. This sounds very cool and can’t wait to try it out. Kudos to all of you!

  35. adastra March 24th, 2010 10:45 pm

    My most important question is: Will I have to re-scan my entire library or will there be and ex/import or conversion feature?

    I had to re-scan my Plex library about 5 times so far (new computer, error on the drive, etc) and it’s always been a huge pain to do, because the scraper scraped 30% of the movies wrong or not at all. Of course I’ve learned from my errors and now keep a backup of the library files on my RAID.

  36. Yoshinatsu March 24th, 2010 10:59 pm

    Hah, can’t wait!!!

  37. odis March 24th, 2010 11:00 pm

    Ooooh.. I cant wait!

  38. Ben March 24th, 2010 11:10 pm

    Sounds like a top update! I’m holding off on buying a Mac Mini now until Plex9

  39. sam March 24th, 2010 11:29 pm

    @vadius45 yeah it would be nice if it could be run from a NAS.

  40. pv March 25th, 2010 12:20 am

    great ! great ! great !

    can’t wait for other parts… and nine

    thanks for all

  41. Massimo March 25th, 2010 12:24 am

    Can’t wait to try it! Brilliant work! You guys are the best!

  42. bommel March 25th, 2010 1:00 am

    YEEEESSSSS!!

  43. isak March 25th, 2010 1:14 am

    This looks great!

    But I have a question: if Plex Media Server serves all the data via HTTP, does this mean that it’s possible to access the media from other apps/platforms, like an iPad or a PC?

  44. robert March 25th, 2010 2:22 am

    Want!

    Thank you guys so much for your great work!

  45. Alex Price March 25th, 2010 2:23 am

    Really looking forward to this update, all of the upgrades sound like huge step forwards over the old library system.

    The fact that even the name you’ve chosen is so great shows just how much thought you guys put in to all this!

  46. maersk March 25th, 2010 2:25 am

    This looks incredibly promising. And wanted so say THANKS to the PLEX team for their hard work and efforts and much appreciation because the team is doing this for FREE and in their spare time so again THANK YOU and also from my girlfriend who’s became a very big fan of PLEX.

  47. Joram Oudenaarde March 25th, 2010 2:43 am

    Sounds amazing so far!

    I’m already very happy with Plex as it is, but as you mentioned, the library had a lot of room for improvements… I can’t wait to get my hands on v9 and have it up and running :)

  48. Lundmark March 25th, 2010 3:01 am

    With the new library, will I be able to put an application menu item on the main menu?

    Let’s say I want to use the excellent TellStick plugin from the AppStore to control my lights, but I don’t want to navigate to Applications -> TellStick app each time I want to turn of a light. Will that be possible?

    Also, has events been added to Alexandria? I.e. make the lights go dark when a video starts playing, then light up when it’s stopped.

  49. interconnect March 25th, 2010 3:28 am

    Awesome! This is one of the best projects I’ve ever bear witness of. One question though… will any of the video improvements mentioned in Ryan’s blog post (http://ryan.plexapp.com/?p=34) be in the .9 update or is that a bit further down the road?

    Keep up the phenomenal work!

  50. Francesco March 25th, 2010 3:37 am

    i would love to beta test this, in order to develop a scraper for italian movies

  51. Ofih March 25th, 2010 4:21 am

    Sounds great! Hope the interface will also be revamped, maybe take some cues from the new Boxee Beta cause they’ve really put something nice together now (interface wise)

  52. Chuck Burt March 25th, 2010 4:23 am

    I love you. Explaining to my wife why it sometimes doesn’t scrape and how to get to shows when it doesn’t was a pain!

    Plex > Boxee > XBMC > FIOS > Satellite > Cable > Comcast/Xfinity

  53. Dan March 25th, 2010 5:52 am

    Sounds GREAT, elan! Can’t wait to see it, and would be more than happy to help out with the testing if you need another user. Thanks for all the work, we’re all grateful and appreciative of all the work you and the gang put in!

  54. Magnus March 25th, 2010 6:23 am

    Thanks for the update! Don’t forget to implement a way do separate hd and sd content! And i’d also like it if it were possible to run the server on windows server or as a virtual linux machine in hyperv or virtualbox. I dont use a mac server! Yet! :)

  55. Colin Nederkoorn March 25th, 2010 7:28 am

    Everything sounds great Elan. Can’t wait to start using it!

  56. mkopel March 25th, 2010 7:30 am

    @elan, could you speak about future plans for profiles and/or parental controls. Currently, I use two profiles that have different sources and it works pretty well. Can’t wait to check out Plex 0.9!

  57. Mitch March 25th, 2010 8:15 am

    @vadius45 @sam The Mini is the best NAS you can find. Mine is up and running for the last 12 months.

  58. Pablo March 25th, 2010 8:36 am

    Everytime there’s a new version of Plex I keep all night long looking into it… so please, realease it on a weekend, otherwise I’ll lose my job! :-)

    congratulations guys… this is the best peace of sw I’ve seen in a looong time.

  59. Nisse March 25th, 2010 9:12 am

    You can expect a nice donation if Alexandria meets my expectations :-)

  60. jsd March 25th, 2010 9:24 am

    Sounds fantastic. One thing I wonder about the ‘stop watching here/resume watching there’ feature, though – will it be able to handle multiple people? We have four people in our house and we all might be at different places in one film.

  61. bbfan23 March 25th, 2010 9:39 am

    Guys, this sounds incredible! I think my heart rate doubled while reading this! ; )
    Please remember everyone- these developers sacrifice a lot of their personal time and if you appreciate what they have been doing the Donate button at the top of the page would be an appropriate way of saying “Thanks”! I’ve donated once and plan to donate again when 9 is out (saved about $1000 on cable last year because of these guys plus the chance to tell TWC to suck it was priceless)!

  62. wally007 March 25th, 2010 10:14 am

    Some crazy requests in comments , like lights integration. You can assign Aplication to FAVORITES and you’ll have access to that in ANY menu.

    Boxee skin cues ? Shudders , oh god please no. Anything from XBMC skin repo but NOT Boxee.

    Windows server ? This is MAC app and lets hope it stays that way.

    What i’m wondering is if library update is going to be live ( ie. recursive folder action , like HAZEL app has ( Hazel is able to watch folder and ALL subfolders unlike Apple’s folder actions that dont go into subfolders ) ) and if not, are we gonna be able to have script kick off library update like now via HTTP ?

  63. elan March 25th, 2010 10:29 am

    @jsd: User profiles are definitely something we’re designing in, although I can’t promise it’ll make it into the first release. Lots of stuff to do :)

  64. elan March 25th, 2010 10:30 am

    @mkopel: We’re capturing content ratings, and have low-level support for user profiles. We’re still working through how we want it to appear to the user, and it may not appear in the first Plex/Nine release. We do consider it very important, though, so don’t worry!

  65. elan March 25th, 2010 10:32 am

    @Lundmark: We have added events (and will add more), so plug-ins will be able to make use of them in the way you are describing.

  66. Fabiano G. Souza March 25th, 2010 11:01 am

    Awesome! The wait will be worth the while!

  67. thomas kaarup March 25th, 2010 12:49 pm

    i’ve just started to use plex and love it but how come my “plugins” are placed at video? are there some way to get them moved since my webradio among some are placed there and also the apple trailers are placed there. cant they be move to e.g. movies so i can look up a movie at apple before watching and dont have to go back and forth…

    but still…. love the program

  68. anhd March 25th, 2010 2:21 pm

    I hope this gets rid of an annoying problem I have. My Mac mini is setup to access several NFS shares. Every now and then, the NFS shares get “lost.” If Plex library is updated while the NFS shares are lost, then I lose all metadata for my videos. After re-mounting the shares and updating Plex library, I get my movies back, but lose such info like “watched”, “recently added”, title renames, and such.

    Will Alexandria solve this?

  69. qthatswho March 25th, 2010 2:24 pm

    That’s all well and good (actually, it sounds freaking awesome!), but where’s the obligatory picture of Barkley??!!

  70. elan March 25th, 2010 4:00 pm

    @anhd: Among other things, yes!

    @qthatswho: Technically speaking (and his contract actually reflects this) he is only obligated to appear for *release* posts.

  71. huy March 25th, 2010 4:50 pm

    i would LOVE to test this out. it sounds amazing.

  72. Alejandro March 25th, 2010 5:04 pm

    Amazing, thank you so much for investing tons of time into what has become my favorite application.

  73. Steve Broadvoice March 25th, 2010 7:05 pm

    Something I do not see asked anywhere. What about speed or performance? Will the new version require newer hardware? Or, is the goal to make it faster than the current Plex?

  74. elan March 25th, 2010 7:26 pm

    @Steve, that’s a very good question. In general, it should be quite similar; a few things might be slower, and a few things might be faster. For example, if you have a huge library and you’re browsing it over the network (server is basement), browsing might be a bit slower just because the data is coming over the network instead of being local. However, it’s likely to be mostly imperceptible (what’s a few tens of milliseconds between friends?).

    In other cases you might find the UI more responsive. Whereas in Plex/Eight there was lots of hitting the (integrated) database for lots of stuff, which could cause small hangs at the end of movies (and major hangs elsewhere where they hung onto a transaction for way too long), now all that stuff is passing asynchronously via HTTP to the media server, so it’s faster from the perspective of the UI.

    Overall, it should be very similar.

  75. munkyboy March 25th, 2010 8:20 pm

    this is exactly the missing piece I’ve been wanting in this game we call HTPC. can’t wait to check it out!

  76. Richard March 26th, 2010 12:10 am

    I don’t usually bother writing this stuff… but, this software is just amazing… and for free?! awesome. It blows everyone away that sees it. Everyone who sees it wants to just put it in a blender and squirt it into their butthole!

    Awesome stuff

  77. interconnect March 26th, 2010 1:27 am

    Will any of the video improvements mentioned in Ryan’s blog post (http://ryan.plexapp.com/?p=34) be in the .9 update or is that a bit further down the road?

  78. Magnus March 26th, 2010 7:03 am

    @Elan To combat lag because of the HTTP connection, wouldn’t it make sense to pre-load a few steps ahead? Say you are browsing movies in wall view, it would make sense to cache movie info for the currently selected movie, and also for the eight surrounding it. Being local area network the added (and often wasted) bandwidth doesn’t matter.

  79. elan March 26th, 2010 9:46 am

    @Magnus: There are plenty of opportunities for optimizing, for sure.

  80. Mr D March 26th, 2010 10:05 am

    Sounds amazing Elan as ever :)
    I cant wait for the library sharing

    One question will it now support AFP as well as SMB??

    My main reason for this request is to allow SL auto sleep wake feature to work (dosent work reliably with SMB)

    Thanks again for all you amazing hard work on this project

  81. elan March 26th, 2010 10:40 am

    @Mr D: The Media Server supports any networked filesystems that the OS supports (AFP, SMP, etc.) for pulling in media. The media is served out via HTTP.

  82. Michael March 26th, 2010 4:08 pm

    I am so excited about built in library sharing… I’d been doing this in a rather ugly way involving sym links… it worked (most of the time) but this is much cooler!

  83. mike foskett March 26th, 2010 5:16 pm

    Is that dribble on my chin?
    Can’t wait.

  84. Jelly March 27th, 2010 1:04 am

    Will the new server be able to run separately form the Plex program? I have to assume that it will…
    If so, will it share media by UPnP? I have an xbox (original, modded) in my living room, which plays media from Plex (on a Macbook Pro in another room) via XBMC, all using UPnP. Would this be possible without the actual plex player running with your new library system? There is no question that i would buy a Mac Mini if i could afford it, but the xbox has worked fine for me up until now.

  85. Luke March 27th, 2010 5:19 am

    Excellent, look forward to the next release of Plex with Alexandria.

  86. jedi March 27th, 2010 6:16 am

    thank heavens for a plex development update.

    i’m fed up of all the plugins you can’t use if you live outside the usa or don’t speak dutch. now for some REAL new stuff for plex!

    i’m glad you ditched xbmc code for the library as that was always the worst part on the xbox.

    now just tell me we don’t need some stupid file-naming convention and we can just use folder.NFO and folder.TBN files that get auto-imported and i’ll be a happy man!

  87. Pedro Alves March 27th, 2010 10:00 am

    Awesome. Can’t wait.

    I’ve written a few plugins for some Portuguese providers
    (RTP, SIC, SIC Radical), and one thing that has me a bit
    nervous with investing time on Plex, is, the fact that the Media
    Server is closed source. Is opening up the Media Server’s sources something being planned along with 9, perhaps? I’d love you for that.

    Keep up the great work.

  88. Pedro Manso March 27th, 2010 10:51 am

    Miss the photo of Barkley…

  89. elan March 27th, 2010 11:00 am

    @Pedro: The primary reason I could see you being nervous is if we decided to suddenly charge for something that’s been free all along, thus putting your hard work behind a “pay wall”. That would be really dumb, and we will never do such a thing. If for no other reason, you should trust me because I used to live in Portugal (Vila Real de Santo António) :)

  90. elan March 27th, 2010 11:12 am
  91. famous38 March 27th, 2010 11:37 am

    I just bought a mac mini only for media center , a NAS and install plex after looking some review.

    ” Alexandria allows a library to have unlimited sections.”

    That make me more happy than anything to choose Plex for adding my Jap anime section.

    Can’t wait to have it :)
    thanks

  92. Hilbe March 27th, 2010 12:58 pm

    Currently I have all my files on a FreeBSD machine on the network with all my Mac Minis reading from it. Can the library be stored on my AFP share on FreeBSD and then read by many Mac Minis? Or does the Plex Media Server have to be running on the same machine as the library?

  93. elan March 27th, 2010 3:23 pm

    @Hilbe: That’ll work fine, the Plex Media Server just needs access (via OS) to media.

  94. coconut March 27th, 2010 11:41 pm

    This is great news.

    I just hope that this time, radio stations from iTunes will be working… Add DVD playback and that would make this app perfect.

    These two reasons are the only reasons I still have to use FrontRow…

  95. Drakamh March 27th, 2010 11:57 pm

    OMG!! all i ever manted! can’t wait to play around with the new features. THNX!

  96. Fernando March 28th, 2010 4:27 pm

    I’m jealous that XBMC isn’t undergoing such a revamp :/

  97. sleepz March 29th, 2010 12:23 am

    looking good..

    Will Alexandria make it possible to share a Library over WAN?

  98. elan March 29th, 2010 9:59 am

    @sleepz: Yes, if you have the upload bandwidth, it will be possible.

  99. hamachi March 29th, 2010 1:51 pm

    so any eta on a public beta?

  100. dev March 29th, 2010 3:03 pm

    yay! u r my hero :D barkley is so damn pretty :D:D

  101. DCstewieG March 29th, 2010 3:32 pm

    I’m late to the party here but amazing work Elan and Co.! You guys continue to blow my mind with both your gift of time and the results it produces. Can’t wait to get with Alexandria…you know, as friends. :)

  102. Jan March 30th, 2010 4:30 am

    Guys,

    you are so mean – teasing with this blog article and then… nothing! 6 days already ;-).

    I’m gonna go to xbmc! Or to boxee! :-P

    Cheers,
    Jan

  103. elan March 30th, 2010 8:02 am

    @Jan: Hey, this was an overview, the next step is more posts on the details behind Alexandria, and then an alpha :)

  104. hellothereunoriginalusername March 30th, 2010 6:37 pm

    Now I’m angry because this is not out. RELEASE IT ALREADY! Please?

  105. Jan March 30th, 2010 10:27 pm

    @Elan: I know ;-)

    Just poking around :-D
    Looks like a great step forward for Plex and makes it a unique feature.

    Any new skin stuff planned for the 9 series? I remember some good ideas in the talk…

    Oh, and say hi to the others :-)
    Jan

  106. elan March 30th, 2010 10:36 pm

    @Jan: Oh, hey! I didn’t recognize you :) We’ve made some nice tweaks to MediaStream for the first release, and then have bigger plans for later on in the series. Cheers!

  107. Kainen March 31st, 2010 1:01 am

    Can’t wait to get my hands on the new release of Plex, this is going to be so cool!

    Going to run the plex server on my mac pro that is going to retire it’s daily hands-on-use and be used as a fileserver for my new media center :D

  108. Jerome March 31st, 2010 4:59 am

    @Elan: Not sure if this has been discussed… Considering everything Plex 0.9 will be bringing to the table and all the changes, what is your take on doing a clean re-install of Plex when going from eight series to nine? I know that sometimes issues can arise after upgrading an application where a lot of the code has been re-written.

  109. majid March 31st, 2010 9:19 am

    oh elan skip the next step and release it bro… the details can be explored by us together!!!

  110. Andrew March 31st, 2010 4:25 pm

    @elan – I just bought my first HDTV and wanted to get a home theatre pc going. At first I tried using an Ubuntu box paired with an Xbox 360 but found that while everything worked alright, it was a little cumbersome (360 codec support, among other things). After a little research I stumbled upon PLEX.

    I have to say – I’ve never seen a (partially) open-source app that I’ve been this impressed with, save for maybe Transmission. You guys are doing a fantastic job. And alexandria sounds like it’ll solve all my (very minor) complaints. Thanks so much for putting so much effort into this software and releasing it for free (though I’m going to donate for sure).

  111. James April 1st, 2010 7:28 am

    This is great news. We ditched cable and began using Plex full time in Jan 09. I have it installed on all our Macs – desktops and even hackintosh netbooks. It’s practically an Operating System on it’s own.

    If you guys added a browser similar to Chromium OS, there would be no need to ever leave the program for entertainment. Boot to Plex directly! Why not use the BSD subsystem and just make Plex the front end instead of OS X’s Aqua?

    Also, being a complete mythology geek (my teenage daughters’ names are Mercury and Calliope) our 1 TB main drive has been named Alexandria for two years. :)

  112. Luke L April 4th, 2010 6:58 am

    This is excellent news, I can’t wait to give .9 a shot on the ole’ Mac Mini. Quick question, do you know when details of the HTML/XML interface will be released so others can start working with it, or at the least some more info on what is and isn’t possible (the description sounds great!)?

  113. elan April 5th, 2010 1:31 pm

    @Luke: The spec is still evolving, but feel free to contact me privately and let me know what you’re looking to use it for and we can chat more!

  114. loukoum April 7th, 2010 12:14 pm

    Great news!

    what about Eyetv integration?

  115. Patrick Decoster April 7th, 2010 1:39 pm

    Somebody port this to PC? :D

  116. gsnerf April 8th, 2010 5:05 am

    Sounds very promissing. Will the new library also be os x only? Or can I install it on my linux server (thats where all my media lives)? And what about the media center software itself. Any plans to make it non mac compatible? (Windows for example to nicely work besides blu-ray players?)

  117. Mike April 8th, 2010 9:46 am

    I have to agree that EyeTV integration would be at the top of my list of what would complete the home theater PC experience.

  118. Adde April 9th, 2010 12:05 am

    This whole new library concept sounds great for low-maintenance by users!

    XBMC developers have also been talking about implementing all those very same library concepts for years now but no one actually started coded it yet, maybe they’ll start now when the competition has announced that they got a head start.

    I only have one question related to this and that is now that you will use Plex Media Server for both local and online media why do you not also make it into an standard DNLA / UPnP Media Server as well?

    If you did make Plex Media Server into a DNLA / UPnP Media Server then you could also compete with TVersity and MediaMall’s PlayOn media servers which allows you to stream media to any UPnP client including the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and most newer TVs which have built-in DNLA clients.

  119. Albert April 9th, 2010 3:40 am

    This really sounds cool, especially the fact that you can add everything to the library. Now I can finally add homemovies, musicvideos, etc to the library, and even use separate sections to orden them.

    Looking forward to a release :)

  120. Tomriken April 10th, 2010 10:29 pm

    Hi. Will there be a way of playing movies and tv shows bought from the iTunes Store in .9? I know it’s a locked system (DRM), but can for example iTunes or an iTunes service run in the background? I like the concept of buying from iTunes rather than using bittorrent. However, the fact that iTunes in itself is not a pleasant way of playing back media makes me want to be a pirate. Not to mention the annoying lack of subtitles support from the iTunes Store. I love that function in Plex. So if we could playback media from iTunes on Plex everybody wins. Keep up the great work!

  121. Sam A April 11th, 2010 6:31 am

    Wow! Recently went from Plex to XBMC on Ubuntu Linux , primarily because I was mostly running Plex on a hackintosh . Now I might need to go back to Plex but I’m making this post on an iPad and it’s got me thinking. Is the future of Plex/XBMC going to be an IPad app or Android/ChromiumOS app on tablets? I imagine if ported to iPad that it would have to be a jailbroken iPad to get iPadPlex installed because of all the Apple restrictions.

  122. Thomas April 12th, 2010 7:48 am

    How long is the road?

  123. elan April 12th, 2010 8:28 am

    @Tomriken: Unfortunately Apple does not allow third parties to play DRM’d video, even using their official APIs.

    @Thomas: It’s long and winding, and it always leads me back for more beer.

  124. fhb April 12th, 2010 12:12 pm

    A stable XML/HTTP API with more features would be great (especially for the ipad, if I think of the many possibilities). Can’t wait anymore and have to thank you for the work already done :)

  125. wassit April 12th, 2010 10:17 pm

    Will the new library be able to handle multi-episode DVDs? I have no idea how you would be able to but here’s hoping!

  126. johnpatrickryan April 13th, 2010 9:59 pm

    i might get flamed for this, but i’ll ask it anyway. do you think there is a chance that we can get GPU acceleration for video playback (via OpenCL)? (ducking)

    i have a 2.0 Ghz 2009 mac mini that has an nVidia 9400 GPU running Snow Leopard. when i play my HD videos (mostly mkv), all of it’s running from the CPU. I sometimes experience dropped frames and slight lags during playback of some 1080p content. this doesn’t happen at all on my 2.0 Ghz Windows PC that is CUDA-enabled.

    I also understand that the playback engine is really based on FFMPEG, and unless they provide an OpenCL-enhanced version, that there’s very little you can do about it. Is this correct?

    I just find it sad that I have this semi-powerful GPU which is basically useless for video playback, and just sits there idly. Most every HTPC that is based on Windows now is already GPU-accelerated via CUDA/DXVA. Even the Boxee box (which is based on nVidia ION) is also GPU accelerated. Even my laptop which has a Quadro FX GPU is also GPU accelerated. And then, my Mac is not. :(

  127. elan April 14th, 2010 12:55 am

    @johnpatrickryan: Flamed? You must have us mistaken with another project. I share your sadness, it would be great if ffmpeg added OpenCL features.

  128. johnpatrickryan April 14th, 2010 4:46 am

    @elan: thanks, man. Keep up the great work! I have been a user of Plex oh ever since it was still called OSXBMC. I think I first had the 0.4.0 release. I still have it now actually, and have been keeping all the stable versions. hehehe. OSXBMC was the reason I bought another Mac.

    also, will the Plex 9 redesign render the current XBMC skins useless? if so, that’s a bit of a shame, since I kinda liked the Aeon skin/mods.

  129. mtryan April 14th, 2010 9:49 am

    Will there be provisions for easily fixing it in the library when file paths change. I recently had to move all my TV episodes to a new drive to make room for more movies. Now I think I will need to re-scrape to fix it.

  130. cody April 14th, 2010 9:58 am

    Let it free, i cant wait, i love just reading about the updates i cant wait but would help if more people tested it just a thought

  131. elan April 14th, 2010 3:13 pm

    @mtryan: Yes, this and rescanning in general (scraping is a dead word now), is much easier.

  132. elan April 14th, 2010 3:14 pm

    @johnpatrickryan: We’re actually working closely with the skinners to ensure their skins work great on Plex/Nine!

  133. Tony April 15th, 2010 9:08 pm

    This looks AMAZING! The shared libraries and categories as well as non-imdb movies displayed looks fantastic. Been waiting for those ^^ Thanks Elan (as well as all the others who are/have been working on it. Keep up the good work!

    I know you don’t have a clear answer, but I was just wondering when we should expect this Alexandria beauty? Are we talking a few weeks time, a few months?
    It’s just to see if I should go through the hassle of organizing all my database with custom artwork/info and resolution flags now, or wait a bit if Alexandria is coming out soon.

    Thanks a lot for the info and for all that you brought to our HT lives with Plex!

  134. elan April 16th, 2010 5:52 pm

    @Tony: I would not bother going through the hassle, especially if you don’t mind dealing with an early release. Thanks for the kind words!

  135. Thomas April 17th, 2010 10:56 am

    So when will we be seeing a release of this excellent prog?

  136. JellyUK April 17th, 2010 12:12 pm

    @elan. Short and sweet – When can we expect new information or a release? It’s been nearly a month since you teased us with this post!

  137. elan April 17th, 2010 11:38 pm

    @JellyUK: We’re on the forth private alpha, and things are stabilizing nicely. Next up you can expect a demo screencast in the next week or so, and a public alpha not too long after that. It won’t be for everybody, but those who love to live on the bleeding edge will be able to check it out.

  138. JellyUK April 18th, 2010 9:27 pm

    @elan – Thanks for the reply. REALLY looking forward to it, adding new content has stopped working for me…

  139. Karim Helal April 19th, 2010 3:18 am

    Now if only somebody could implement the server side for my ReadyNAS NV+, I’d be the happiest guy in the world :)

  140. Wayne April 19th, 2010 8:10 am

    Hi,

    been following this for a while! – One thing ‘as a father’ I wonder if is possible is to be able to lock down parts of a media library based on the age rating of the films. If we can now share a central library (if I’m reading this correctly) then there is no reason why each computer has to have separate stores. If this is the case could there be a way to only allow playback on a plex station (mac running plex) if, say, a pin code is entered that unlocks that film. Each plex station would have a film rating set up that couldnt be changed (passworded?) Then on selection of a piece of media from the central library – if the viewer age is under the age set on the plex station, normal play, if its over – you get challenged for a pin code to release it.?

    (does this make sense??)

    Thanks for listening!

    Wayne.

  141. elan April 19th, 2010 2:22 pm

    @Wayne: We have several parents on the team, and this is a topic that is near and dear to our hearts. It won’t be exposed in the UI in the first alpha, but the underpinnings are there for sophisticated parental controls.

  142. Karim April 19th, 2010 5:22 pm

    @Karim

    I also have a Readynas, and would love to see a linux port. Unfortunately, the developers seem to be interested in not opening up any of their new work (but gladly build upon what others have done).

    I understand where they are coming from, and can sympathize with their reasoning. I just feel like efforts to port let us say the new functionality to a linux box are hampered (impossible license wise?) by this decision.

    The answer you will probably get is something along the lines, “if you don’t like it, choose a different product”. And yes, anything that the developers’ write they are free to license however they want. It just goes against the spirit of other projects, which Plex builds upon. There would not be a Plex without an opensource ffmpeg or xbmc.

    There is some awesome, truly awesome, stuff being churned out by elan et al. I am grateful for all the hard word, and that I can experience their effort in a free as in beer format. Having said that, I would be even more happy if their current effort was in a more loose license, which could encourage new and awesome ways to use Plex (think ReadyNas server component with client running on OS X).

    All in all, thank you elan and the gang for what looks to be a great release. You guys can put me down for a 50USD donation if everything is opened up (you can hold me to that). Why not do an “opensource fund raiser”?

  143. GeetJ April 19th, 2010 7:05 pm

    @JellyUK
    Is your library on auto update? If so turn it off and use manual updating. Thank fixed the no scraping issue for me. All shows add as they should.

    Geet

  144. elan April 19th, 2010 7:15 pm

    @Karim: Porting the Plex Media Server to the ReadyNAS wouldn’t be hard, in theory, so it’s not out of the question for a port. I appreciate you voicing your opinions in a very civilized manner :)

  145. JellyUK April 19th, 2010 11:04 pm

    @GeetJ – Yeah, i’ve seen that solution floating around on the forums. I turned it off a while ago, but manual update doesn’t work either. If i say “Update Library” or “Scan for changes” it goes through the (very quick) motions, but nothing is updated. If i re-scrape the entire folder (be that a whole TV show of 100s of episodes, or my movies folder) it will find the new episodes, but of course loses all of my watched/unwatched info and takes ages.
    I would go through and re do my entire library, wiping the slate clean, but if this new release is coming out sometime soon, as we’ll need to re-do it it anyway, i guess i’ll wait.
    If i have some time today i might try backing up my library, deleting app support etc, re-installing plex and restoring it, see if that makes any difference.
    Thanks for the reply :D

  146. Kashiwagi April 20th, 2010 3:49 pm

    Elan: I apologize for the above. I don’t know why, but for some reason I wrote “Karim” in the name field because I was replying to him. My reply was naturally to him.

    Anyway, I would again like to voice my great appreciation for all the hard work that you guys put in to making a polished and civilized mediacenter solution. Keep up the good work, and I will keep my fingers crossed for a port(able) version of the media server.

  147. Matt April 23rd, 2010 5:36 am

    I can confirm that the fix works insofar as it puts the display to sleep now (and keeps it asleep). However, I can also confirm that if the dim screen saver is active before the display sleeps then “waking” the display with the (apple) remote brings Plex back to the dim screen saver mode. At that point it’s not possible too get the dim overlay off (without restarting or perhaps waiting for the dim screen saver timer to trigger it again and then use the remote before the display sleeps). Anyway, I just turned off the dim screen saver and it works well. At least the display is sleeping now.

    Thanks much!
    Matt

  148. ppson April 26th, 2010 12:58 am

    So the new version will share/stream the media to other clients? Or is it just the library meta data that is shared with all clients?

    Will it be possible to share only library metadata between clients but have the clients accessing the media locally (from different source). I’m asking because I alternate between 3 different residences. My bandwidth at these locations is not big enough to support 720p streaming, but I do manually download media from my main location to watch when it’s fully downloaded. I would still like to use the decentralized library with all its selected posters, metadata and tags. Is this possible, and how will the library handle media that is not available, will this still be visible in library? Ideally for me only the available media would show in the library, while the non available media lie “dormant” in the background, so if I have different media on different clients their metadata is all stored in the decentralized library. (Hope the request makes sense, much harder to describe in a concise way with words than to myself in my head ;-) )

  149. GCO April 26th, 2010 12:32 pm

    congrats… hope we can test it to have quickly a great release…
    All the best ;)

  150. pippo April 28th, 2010 5:27 am

    This sounds really great. Is any alpha release available?

    And please, fix the playlists too!! We need to create, name, save and load playlists!!

  151. Julien Angeli May 2nd, 2010 3:37 am

    ALEXANDRIA I – EBOOKS
    About Alexandria, just have a question, or maybe a suggestion (or maybe a selfish request?).

    Currently Plex handles well comic books archives (.rar, .cbr etc) but the only way to access them is through the Pictures section and with zero descriptions, it’s very basic.

    I dream about a COMICS/EBOOKS section, possibly based upon the current TV structure (comics could be easily organized in “tomes/episodes” too), with scrappable summaries and cover/fanarts (could be possible from Amazon or other big comics dealers I guess).
    And consequently control could be a bit more reader-friendly on the GUI and with the Apple Remote (zoom & pan, SamrtScroll-like effect? Page curling? you’re the pro, I trust you!)

    I guess this could sound definitely as a “niche” use of Plex for Elan and other skilled devs, who are busy enough with common AV medias, but considering the growth of HD comics you can find nowadays, and the forthcoming explosion of ebooks for the iPad (I’m not sure reading a book on a TV would be comfy, but e-newspaper-magazines could), it’s maybe time to at least consider now the opportunity to implement this function in the future, not too lately?

    Best regards and congratulations for all the great work!

  152. Julien Angeli May 2nd, 2010 4:04 am

    ALEXANDRIA II – SECURITY
    Now an other point I am a bit nervous a bit: security of all the set-up

    Real Alexandria Library finally burned (well historically it’s not completely true, but nevermind) and same can/could happen with Plex’s.

    User can do a wrong thing and mess up the library, or there could be a problem to Imdb if their database mix titles and therefore mix things in User’s Library, there could be an alien invasion or a black hole could eat us all, but whatever, problems can always occur.

    I wish there was a security function in Plex, maybe somewhere in the Settings, just a big button which says SAVE MY PLEX (which stands for “SAVE MY TIME” when you have a huge library and tweaked everything to be as you want) and would backup all the stuff (settings, library txt/pics, metas etc) in a single, secure place, as a single and secure file named Plex-Backup-User_day-month-yr.zip!
    … and of course a little button near it to restore everything if the shit happens.

    Of course this can be done manually already, but it would be so much convenient to just control this to GUI!

    And convenient too when you migrate your Plex on a new computer (ok I agree, this is a 0.85 reasoning: with centralized streamed Library, hooking a new mac to the Library will work like a breeze, but precisely, this makes central Library backups even more crucial!)

    Best regards

  153. Anthony Kern May 3rd, 2010 5:33 pm

    This looks awesome. Having a central library on my server for all the units in the house will be awesome. It’ll also be great to have a dedicated library section for my porn, ermm… documentaries, so they don’t all show up when browsing the movies section. Can’t wait for this, and will likely buy a new Mac Mini to replace the XBMC linux machine in my bedroom.

  154. program86 May 12th, 2010 11:39 am

    Very cool stuff! Multi-Client resume feature seems very interesting. Keep up the awesome work guys!

  155. pamper May 14th, 2010 6:23 am

    Great!!!
    I installed Plex on my new Mini a few days ago and I love it. It’s just that a want and much more for my living room!
    The posibility of add a ebook, comic and newspaper section sounds really good….
    I can’t wait for the next relaese.
    Thanks a lot… Plex is really GREAT!!!!

  156. JellyUK May 17th, 2010 11:54 am

    Guys, this is getting a bit ridiculous. No communication at all about what’s going on. It’s a bit unfair to tease people with what sounds like an absolutely amazing release, saying that there’ll be a screencast within a week…it’s now been four…

    I know that this software is free, and i cannot stress enough my appreciation for what you all do, but keeping people waiting like this is a bit odd for such a community driven project.

    Please tweet/blog/facebook some kind of update, it’s been nearly 2 months since this initial blog post, and that’s about 10 years in internet time!!

  157. Eric Krause May 17th, 2010 2:37 pm

    I would also like an update if possible. Having just ran into the scrapper not picking up a new show, I’m more than willing to alpha test something. Been checking back every day or so hoping for a new word.
    That being said, I understand you all busy and have lives. I love the product, and look forward to the new features.

  158. Sgoalie May 17th, 2010 3:57 pm

    I’d LOVE to help test this! This answers my #1 complaint about Plex and XMBC. I have 2 mini’s and an iMac. The mini’s are 100% dedicated as media centers and the Imac manages the content. It’s always annoyed me that I couldn’t sync the database across them.

    Thank You!!!!!!

  159. jakepe May 18th, 2010 4:35 am

    Hello
    just checking in here everyday to see if there are some news, but nothing for the last 6-7 weeks ?

  160. petjek August 12th, 2010 1:36 am

    08-12-10…
    Where is Plex 9?

  161. Dave August 13th, 2010 2:15 pm

    Could we all get some kind of update? Even if its not good news I think we would rather hear about a delay rather than nothing at all.

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