Archive for October, 2011
It’s been about 24 hours since the release, although it seems longer than that because we haven’t gotten much sleep with all the excitement. First and foremost, a massive THANK YOU to everyone for your overwhelmingly positive response to this new release. It’s been an amazing experience for us to finally see this release take wings after being in development for so long. You’ve already queued thousands of items in your myPlex Queues, and one of you even wrote a Safari extension already (thanks, Alex!). Of all the feedback that poured in, this had to be one of my favorite comments:
I just wanted to quickly cover a few of the known issues, and some frequently asked questions, in hopes of helping you with the new release.
- Why don’t I have any thumbnails? Some of you are noticing that your server’s sections don’t look as pretty as mine do. Speaking frankly, my sections bring all the girls to the yard. The reason for this is simply that with the many thousands of people who connected their servers to myPlex for the first time today, the thumbnailing jobs are a bit backed up. We’ll be bringing more hardware online shortly to help.
- Why don’t I see/can’t I play my media on myPlex? myPlex is a cloud-based hub for your media, which helps connect Plex clients to Plex Media Servers, but it does not store your libraries (media or metadata).
- I am having issues logging into myPlex/the forums. In order to support single sign-on and scale, we are migrating over accounts from the forums to myPlex. This migration should be transparent and automatic, and it has been for thousands of people. However, a handful of you have had trouble, the primary situation being if forgot your forum password. If you need help, please stop by the Plex Chat and one of our friendly engineers will lend a hand!
- myPlex makes it too easy for me to watch my media, no matter where I am! Sorry, we’ll get right on that.
- There appears to be a problem with iOS 4.x, where users are seeing a crash on start with Plex for iOS 2.0. We’re scurrying around to find a device with that version (we’ve all updated to iOS5), so if you’re having problems, the quick fix would be to upgrade, if you’re willing to do so.
- A minority of users are reporting stutter with nearly all video, which we’re puzzled by. We’re in the process of isolating the cause, and you can help by stopping by Plex Chat and sharing details of your setup, or adding to a forum thread.
- Transcoding qualities from the Plex Laika client were wrong (too low), and additionally, transcoding from a server which was not on port 32400 (an automatically mapped one rarely is) would fail. A fix for this one is available as 0.9.5.1; the updated clients are available for download now (no autoupdate for now, sorry!).
IANAL but these are my common sense notes:
- All communication between clients and myPlex is fully SSL encrypted.
- myPlex doesn’t store any information about your media (files, hashes, etc.)
- myPlex stores five thumbnails from each section (when it gets around to it) but no metadata about items in your library (beyond what you see).
- myPlex acts as a hub, connecting Plex clients and Plex servers, but it is not involved in any communication between client and server (beyond facilitating it).
- myPlex stores URLs and metadata for queued items (obviously), and your progress viewing the items.
- When clients sign into myPlex, they send OS type and version, client type and version, and a unique identifier (random UUID on most platforms).
- myPlex loves you and respects you. myPlex doesn’t wait to call you. myPlex never forgets your birthday.
- Plex/Nine used to contain client and server together in a single package. For a variety of reasons, the new release has separated out the client (Plex Media Center) and the server (Plex Media Server). This allows you to quickly install just the client on a machine, for example. The new server can simply be dragged to Applications like the client.
- The old and new clients don’t interfere with each other and can both be used on the same machine.
- You can move between old and new server (and back again) without any trouble.
- One thing to note is if you had the old server starting automatically, you may want to disable this in Plex/Nine via Preferences > System > Plex Media Server if you’re going to run the new server.
- There is no need to re-scan, recreate your library, or anything of that nature when moving between server versions. Try the new one out! Make your dog use the old one!
- The new client will work with the old server, mostly, but you’ll be missing features (e.g. TV posters in On Deck/Recently Added). If the server is much older, the new client may not see its sections at all.
- The old client will work with the new server perfectly, but it might be a bit jealous.
- The new client is labeled BETA. It’s very new. Most things should work much better. Some things are still missing, incomplete, or broken.
- There is no auto-update for the new client or server yet, but it will be added soon.
And for Phill, who correctly pointed out in the comments that such a major release warrants an additional photo of Barkley: you, sir, are correct, and we’ve taken steps to remedy this most serious breach of protocol.
OK, I know why you’re here. You want the new releases, and you want them now. Well, you’re in the right place.
Note that as part of the release process, we’ve added new forums (for myPlex, and the new “Laika” client). There is also an amazing amount of documentation on the new release. There are a lot of new moving parts, so we’re sure there may be a few rough edges. Please let us know about them, and we’ll get them smoothed out.
Most of all, though, we really hope you enjoy the new release!
One more thing; as I’m sure you’re aware of, there is a Plex client for Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players. Thousands of people are using it, and it’s quite nice; I picked up a compatible Blu-ray player for under $99 which does 1080p and optical audio out. Oh, and it’s a Blu-ray player.
Anyway, during the Laika development cycle, we worked with the amazingly talented author of the client, Daniel, as he updated the Samsung client to support new Laika features, and upgrade the look and feel of the application. I think the results are stunning:
One more note, the Linux releases will be updated shortly, it takes us a bit of time to build for all the different platforms/NAS devices. You’ll be happy to know that our Linux engineers are working on completely automating the process.
Lastly, a HUGE thank you to all the Plex Ninjas who helped us test this release. Your tireless dedication to helping us track down and resolve issues in the new code, document the new features, your friendly and helpful 24-hour presence in Campfire, all of it was just simply awesome.
Peace out, friends. Love from Barkley and the team. Click Get Plex on the web site to download the new releases.
In yesterday’s post, we unveiled myPlex, and today we want to talk about the other pieces of the software included in the release. This is, by far, the biggest release we’ve ever attempted. Besides the brand new cloud-based features, we have major new releases of the desktop client, the media server, the iOS client, and the Android client. So if we’ve been a bit quiet lately, it’s only been because we’ve been working so hard.
Without further ado, let’s explore the new releases. As many of you figured out from the initial teaser post, the word Laika was included. Laika is the codename for the next generation Plex desktop client. (For you collectors, another beautiful retro hint is here.) We chose the name as a homage to the Plex mascot Barkley (whose name roughly translates to Laika), and a tribute to the first dog in space.
The Plex desktop client has been largely rewritten, based on the latest stable release of XBMC. This means that it’ll benefit from all the great work that team has put in, and will have the updated skinning engine and player that Plex makes use of. This means that it’ll run smoother, and consume less CPU and memory. Media playback is also much better, with improved and more flexible A/V sync, support for optical media, and more. In addition, we’ve updated the core engine (the incredible ffmpeg) to the very latest code, which means there is support for 10-bit video (Hi10P), HTTP Live Streaming, and much more. We’ve also made it easier to keep abreast of future changes from both teams.
If you’ve been using Plex for a while, you’re no doubt aware of the Retroplex skin, which is one of the most popular third party skins. We’re pleased to announce that its talented author, Sebastian, has been working closely with us to modernize the default Plex skin for this release, and not a single pixel has gone untouched. It looks amazing, and I’m sure you’ll love it.
This new release of Plex fully supports myPlex, and is a “thin client”. This means you can download just the client, sign into myPlex, and you have instant access to all your media (and media shared with you), no matter where you are. The client can transcode or Direct Play remote media, including Flash/Silverlight video. Many of you have asked for this feature, and we’re incredibly happy to bring it to you. If you look closely, you’ll see there’s even an option for including shared libraries in the universal search.
We always strive to make our software easier to use, and one thing we noticed was that in regular usage, certain media consumption patterns emerged that we could take advantage of to make it much easier for people to get to their media more easily. For example, if I want to watch TV, I’m most likely to be interested in seeing the next unwatched episode of a show I’ve watched recently. Easy enough to explain, but in previous versions, you were stuck finding the TV show, going to the right season, and looking for the next unwatched episode. Honestly, I’d rather spend that time opening a beer.
It’s actually easier to explain with a screen capture.
I decided to watch some TV, so i scrolled down to highlight my Television section, and to the right, the media shelf fades in with two areas: On Deck content, and Recently Added content. Just last night, we watched the third episode of West Wing (no spoilers in the comments, please), so Plex is offering me the fourth episode. Two clicks away and I’m watching it, as opposed to (I just counted) fifteen!
A week or two ago, we finished the last episode of the first season of Walking Dead (if you haven’t read the graphic novel, you really should), and so it’s offering me the season premier for the second season. Unfortunately, I have to wait for a guy friend to visit to watch that, since Anna won’t go near zombies.
Before that, I got halfway through a Simpsons episode and then got distracted by zombies or shiny objects, so it’s offering me that half-finished episode next. And so on.
In the lower shelf, it’s showing me media that’s been recently added to this section of the library.
This context-sensitive way of offering media is, in my opinion, the single coolest new feature in this next release. We also use the shelves to display the recently added items to your media queue:
If you’re hovering over a channels menu item, it shows you the most recently used channels: again, we’re trying to help you get to where you’re going as quickly as possible.
There are lots of other little details I could go into, but there’s one more big one I want to share in the form of another screen capture. Drum roll, please…
That’s right, Plex is now officially available for Windows. We hired some amazing engineers who live and breath the platform, and they’ve not only gotten it running splendidly, they’ve added a few sweet touches like integration with Windows Media Center. That delicious new icon, by the way, which you’ll see in the new clients, was designed by the superbly talented Alexis, who does incredible work (he also designed all previous versions of the Plex icons).
Let’s switch gears over to the server side, where we’ve made lots of improvements as well. First and foremost, since we’re on the topic of Windows, I’m happy to announce that the new Plex Media Server supports Flash and Silverlight video. We’ve also fixed A/V sync and drift that occurred with Flash and Silverlight videos on OS X.
We’ve greatly improved the transcoder, fixing A/V sync issues, DTS distortion, transcoding over 3G, and another handful of issues, including interoperating with the Roku 2.
Here’s a list of the rest of the changes in the Plex Media Server for your perusal:
- Memory usage reading iTunes XML file greatly reduced.
- Added browsing movies by country.
- Allow browsing by collection in music sections.
- Fix for crashes when scanning directories without permission.
- [Linux] Fixes for inotify automatic scans.
- Improved reliability in network advertisements.
- Fix for date-based episodes not getting any metadata.
- Greatly sped up starting audio playback over slow connections.
- Fix 100% CPU usage on run first.
- Fixed unmatched items not getting local subtitles.
- Crash starting and and then quickly stopping Flash/Silverlight playback.
- [Windows] Fix unresponsive tray icon.
- [Windows] A few other crashes.
- Sped up recently added media queries.
- Allow Direct Streaming for up to 160kbps AAC
- Fix nested iTunes playlists.
(Of course, all the new features, such as the “on deck” and recently added content are available via the HTTP API to the media server.)
Moving along to the mobile applications, we’ve spent an enormous amount of effort updating both the iOS and Android applications. Darrin will be posting tomorrow with details on the new version of Plex for Android, and on the iOS side, we closed over 150 issues and added full myPlex integration. Check out the new awesome home page, which is a great way to see an overview of your media (note the shared media and the queue from myPlex):
You will love the new iOS application. It starts faster, connects faster, resumes faster, and is much more stable than the last version. Here is a list of the most visible changes:
- myPlex support.
- All-new home screen.
- Alphabet indexing for quickly browsing through large media collections (yay!)
- Subtitle scaling.
- Audio boost for videos.
- Internationalized to French, Swedish, German and Korean, with many thanks to our translators. (Want to help us localize it more? Visit this link in Firefox, and we’ll incorporate for the next release. Klingon, please!)
- Much faster and more reliable connections to servers.
- Caching improvements, images cached between WiFi and 3G.
- Remember last filter (e.g. Recently Added) for each section.
- Display album art/track name on lock screen (iOS5).
- Support for photos via Plex Media Manager.
- Lots of other minor improvements all over the application.
As I hope you can see, this is an absolutely massive release. We’ve brought huge improvements to every area of our media platform. We really hope you’ll enjoy them!
Of course, the question you all have is: when it will be launched? Let me bring your attention to the two numbers on the teaser postcard: TEN, and ELEVEN. The number ELEVEN referred to the year, 2011, while TEN referred to this fine month of October. That means that you will all be playing with all these new toys very shortly!
We’ll leave you with these fine screencasts, put together by our very own Boots:
See you soon, with a photo of Barkley.111 comments