Plex Blog

February 21, 2009

Release 0.7.8: Brave New World

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:

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.

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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The Best of Plex

Release 0.7.8: Brave New World is a premium feature and requires a Plex Pass subscription.

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