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September 21, 2023

Plex Pro Week ‘23: TLDR; Our First Ever Fireside in the Forums

Hello, dedicated (and amazing) Plex fans!

What a jam-packed week so far! There is some fantastic content from search to servers, so when you’re done here, refill your popcorn and check out all the in-depth sessions featured in Pro Week 2023.

Did you know that we actually kicked off the festivities last week with our first ever “Fireside in the Forums” event? Not your average fireside chat, this week-long event created space in the forums for various members of the Plex community to come together and share ideas, concerns, and interact with engineers and thought leaders inside Plex!

We know that there have been some gaps in communication and areas that we could have done better. The question was, how do we create a fun and exciting event, when we have a recent history and perception of avoiding engagement and communication?

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to just light the fire, grab a comfy blanket, and grab a seat, fireside!

Oh, and did I mention the hot chocolate? It was delicious!

The first toast that we need to make is to thank our passionate community who not only listened to us, but jumped in and posted, asked, and made the entire Fireside a fantastic event. We should also raise our cups and thank the Plex supporters who jumped in to answer questions and help make this a success.

And now that the cups are emptied, the flames have died down, and the embers are starting to cool, let’s take a look back at some of the best of the Fireside in the Forum chats!

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Did you know that Plex is a fully remote company? The discussions kicked off with a great question around how we deal with different continents and time zones. While a lot of organizations had to learn these skills quickly in the past few years, we were working remotely before it became cool to work remotely. This includes some amazing asynchronous workplace tools, recording meetings, and a big focus on communication!

We had some great discussion around accessibility which is an area that we are always looking to improve. As well as around improving where ad breaks occur when streaming from our free Movies & Shows since getting an ad dropped in in the middle of a huge plot twist is just as frustrating to us. (We have some pretty innovative efforts underway to improve this for everyone!)

It was great to call out that there are no plans to remove photos, but we do need to decide on what is next for this great feature.

While we have no current plans around providing our own Plex-branded hardware, we are going to continue working to support playback on all kinds of different devices and you never know what fresh new ideas are going to pop up during a hackathon!

It was also great to get a chance to talk about some big initiatives that we have been working on around quality and consistency in our apps. This also includes some very persistent and tenacious bugs that were brought up! These have been invading Apple TVs, NVIDIA SHIELDs, and smart TVs and we are calling in the exterminators!

And then there is Plexamp! What a response here. This app got all kinds of chatter going on around the fireside. It was fantastic to hear all of the responses and ideas coming from people who enjoy this amazing music app. This includes giving a big congratulations to Plexamp who “graduated” from being a Plex Labs project into the wider world of a fully supported app. It basically decided the lab was too small, declared itself to be free (literally, blog post here), and moved out. They grow up so fast…

In other Plexamp news: “yes” to plans for improved downloads, “no” to current plans for Apple watch support, and a very vague-yet-exciting sounding tease around headless Plexamp!

Let’s not forget about some of the other great Plex features. How about the Watchlist? What a great way to have a universal tool for collecting and viewing titles that you would like to see. A great feature—but it could be better! How about we consider adding more filters to make finding things on your Watchlist even easier? Or what about those pesky shows whose order is always wrong—yup, we are working on providing alternate orders there as well!

We aren’t done yet! How about personal media? Let’s talk server baby!

First up: Do you DVR? We do! And we are always looking to improve this awesome feature. Similarly, offline usage is another area that is on the roadmap. Also, while ebooks aren’t on that roadmap, we haven’t given up on audiobooks!

But we aren’t done yet! Local file metadata is definitely on our list and while we are not going to be updating our current python version, what we have in mind to replace them should create some fantastic new opportunities to interact with the development community!

Oh yeah, not one, but TWO more things here! We’re continuing to work on improving video downloads! This is an important area for us to improve. And finally, we heard you loud and clear and video playback speed controls are definitely on our roadmap!

We even found some time to sprinkle in some release news for things like Plex Dash and even tease a big search release a day or two early (here and here—and don’t miss the Pro Week blog post about it!).

Finally, we get to the end here and that might bring up the question: what’s next? We have big plans! Some of these were covered here in the Fireside chat. We know we have work to do, but the first thing to know is that Plex Media Server and our personal media efforts aren’t going anywhere and are still a core area for Plex! Like Mark Twain famously said, “Reports of [our] death have been greatly exaggerated!”

We couldn’t truly wrap up this event without taking one more opportunity to say thanks. Thank you for participating in our Fireside in the Forums chat and for loving Plex. You are awesome!

About Kevin

A Director of Engineering at Plex, Kevin has been an avid user and part of the community for over 12 years. He has grown his server solutions from a modest Xbox with XBMC to the point of being the de facto IT go-to for friends and family.

About Schuyler

Schuyler was one of the earliest employees at Plex and has helped grow and evolve the product and engineering teams through the past decade+. He’s a keen problem-solver and believer in people-first technical leadership. Over the past several years, his media consumption has taken a sharp turn toward kids content.

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