Archive for November, 2012
Fall is in the air, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, at least in the United States. The leaves are turning, and the first snow has already fallen in some parts of the country. I’m personally looking forward to the smell of warm pies baking, turkeys roasting, garlic-infused mashed potatoes with altogether too much butter, and of course spending time with family.
Thanksgiving implies travel for many people. Crowded airports, long drives, lots of time in lines, or pretending to fall asleep next to talkative strangers on planes. In other words, the perfect time for using Plex.
Unfortunately, wireless broadband is far from ubiquitous, and even when it’s available, it’s usually expensive, mostly slow, and sometimes even metered. This sucks, and it sucks even worse if you’re trying to stream high definition video.
Today, we’re doing something about that.
(We’ve actually been working especially hard this last month to finish it up in time for Thanksgiving!)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are incredibly proud to be to introduce PlexSync to you. It’s available today for iOS, and will be available for Android in the next couple of weeks.
Syncing media to the device is probably the most highly requested features since we launched the mobile apps, and rightly so. Using PlexSync, you can flag content from your library (or from certain channels) for download. Once you’ve done that, your server will convert the content you selected to a compatible format, and the mobile client will download the content to your device so you can view it when you’re offline.
PlexSync is a premium feature. It is currently in beta, and as such we’re making it available free of charge to our PlexPass members during the beta period. We’ll collect feedback, fix all the bugs, and make sure it works amazingly well. Let’s explore some key features of PlexSync:
- PlexSync is universal: It doesn’t matter whether you want to sync content from your library or from a channel – PlexSync can handle it all. Personally, I can’t live without my Vimeo Staff Picks, best videos on the Internet, so let’s grab a few to watch. See that little download button in the upper right? Tap it like it’s hot.
- PlexSync is rich: When you’re offline, you get almost exactly the same experience as if you were online. All your metadata is visible, along with posters, background art and theme music, and you can filter your content just as if you were browsing live content from your server. How awesome is that? Here I am in offline mode, can you taste the richness?
- PlexSync is flexible: You decide exactly what you want to sync. PlexSync can sync everything, limit based on duration, or number of items, or filter out episodes you’ve already watched – you name it. Here I am syncing 3 Pixar Movies, because, honestly, nothing keeps my (imaginary) kids quiet for hours like watching a lamp bounce around on a squeaky ball over and over again.
- PlexSync is smart: Your server will automatically convert more content for your device as you watch videos you’ve already synced. And your watched state & view offsets are synced back to your server the next time you connect. The sync details are stored in the cloud, so they can be edited even if your server is offline. Here I’m watching the media conversion take place on the server. My server is converting the file at 7.2x realtime, since it has more CPUs than Angelina Jolie has adopted children.
- PlexSync is considerate: Your server won’t use precious CPU cycles to convert your content if you’re already converting something for watching live. Additionally, you can instruct the app to only display synced content when you’re not on a Wi-Fi network, ensuring Plex doesn’t gobble up your cellular data allowance. Check out this sexy new connectivity setting:
- PlexSync works great with subtitles: We support SRT, SMI, SSA, and – happy days! – PGS and VOBSUB too.
- PlexSync is developer friendly: There is an API, and we expect that people will do cool and creative things with it. There is a flexible profile-based system (similar to the DLNA profiles) which configures how the media conversion is done.
We are very happy to share PlexSync with you today, and along with it all the other great features of Plex 3.0 for iOS. Barkley is happy too, but his contract currently only provides for using his likeness in media server release posts.303 comments
We’ve been talking about Plex/Web for a while now. Making you drool with lots of juicy screen shots. PlexPass holders have been tweeting about it. And now, my friends, we’re making it available for everyone.
tl;dr ~ To get Plex/Web, follow these easy steps:
- Download and run the new Plex Media Server.
- If you’re a myPlex user, hit this link.
- Otherwise, hit http://x.x.x.x:32400/web
- Prosper, and be merry.
We’re super excited about Plex/Web, and we suspect you will be too. It’s the fastest and richest Plex client that exists today for managing, browsing and playing your content. No, it’s not a replacement for the gorgeous Plex Media Center, but you can run Plex/Web from anywhere in the world in any (reasonably modern) web browser.
Also, this is the first release of the media server which has run the PlexPass gauntlet. We made three releases, each of which was tested thoroughly. Bugs were reported, suggestions were made, and as such, we’re confident that this is a better release than it would otherwise be.
Update: The Plex/Web forum is now open for everyone! Join the fun!
I’ll also note that with Plex/Web leaving PlexPass, this means that there will be a new MYSTERY FEATURE making its PlexPass debut tomorrow. It’ll be great with Thanksgiving coming up, and no, it’s not a turkey.
The new Plex Media Server has some really nice new stuff in it too, which I’ll go over quickly. To kick it off, we’ve made a number of improvements around photos. Scanning them in is much quicker, and we read in lots of EXIF data and allow rich filtering.
Secondly, and this is pretty much my favorite feature ever, we’ve made the media server manage the transcoder much more intelligently, so that it doesn’t use all your precious CPUs and warm up your laptop to the point where it fries eggs and prevents you from having offspring. Up until now, we’ve run the transcoding as quickly as possible, using all your CPU. It got even worse when you had multiple mobile devices streaming video.
With this new smart management, you’ll find your CPU is used only when actually needed (which always makes Al Gore happy), your machine will run cooler, and your server will be able to stream to more devices simultaneously.
As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also taken a baby step towards supporting subtitles in DLNA and made it work on some devices (e.g. the PS3). Any device which uses MPEGTS as a transcode target now gets subtitle support.
There are lots of other juicy bits, like support for more administrative tasks (such as cleaning out unused bundles) and a ton of additions to the API, for all those writing Plex clients.
Here’s the full list of changes, below the Barkley, who’s tired after an hour of swimming.
- NEW: Read some EXIF data for photos and allow filtering on it.
- NEW: Add support for filtering videos by resolution.
- NEW: Improve filtering/sorting options for specific types.
- NEW: Transcoder now goes idle when it gets ahead, saves CPU, helps multiple sessions coexist.
- NEW: (DLNA) MPEGTS target supports transcode throttling (lower CPU usage).
- NEW: (DLNA) MPEGTS target supports audio stream picking and subtitle burning.
- NEW: Use Plex/Web for the default manager now across platforms (option + click uses old Cocoa manager).
- NEW: Added Sony 2011 DLNA profile from (thanks to yardco & tcviper).
- NEW: (API) Add /library/metadata/X/split and /library/metadata/X/merge?ids=a,b,c endpoints.
- NEW: (API) Add /library/clean/media to delete unused media bundles.
- NEW: (API) Add /library/clean/bundles to delete unused bundles.
- NEW: (API) Add ?checkFiles=1 parameter to /library/metadata/X endpoint to check for existence/access for files.
- NEW: (API) Add /library/metadata/X/<tag class>/[add|remove] endpoints to allow adding/removing tags from items.
- NEW: (API) Add new unviewedLeafCount/unwatched/unwatchedLeaves filter fields.
- NEW: (API) Allow >=, <=, and != operators on filter fields.
- NEW: (API) Added a new /library/onDeck global On Deck endpoint.
- NEW: (API) Added fledgling new endpoints /transcode/sessions (and corresponding DELETE /transcode/sessions/<key>).
- NEW: (API) Pass back default sort/direction in /sorts.
- NEW: (API) Added lots more details to WebSocket notifications.
- FIX: An issue which could result in On Deck items being ordered incorrectly or empty.
- FIX: Don’t pass back filenames for shared sections.
- FIX: An issue where season art for date-based shows wouldn’t get loaded the first scan.
- FIX: A few memory leaks and a socket leak.
- FIX: An issue which could lead to the media server becoming unresponsive and crashing with no network.
- FIX: Recently Viewed Show count bumped to 25.
- FIX: When signing out of myPlex, deregister server in cloud.
- FIX: Fix some photos not getting thumbnails.
- FIX: (Windows) Crash when enabling network logging.
- FIX: Crash analyzing some .TS files.
- FIX: Speed up photo scanning greatly.
- FIX: 1/16 of the time, we were incorrectly computing OpenSubtitles hashes. Existing ones are repaired.
- FIX: Attempt to work around newer LG TVs causing PMS to churn with big music sections.
- FIX: Date-based episodes could be inappropriately merged.
- FIX: Store format of sidecar subtitles.
- FIX: Rare issue where HTTP server could stop accepting new connections.
- FIX: Massive speedup when computing number of watched episodes for a show.
- FIX: Quitting PMS during startup could lead to a hang.
- FIX: Move the deletion preference into the library preferences group.
- FIX: Fix a crash in JSON serialization.
- FIX: Tweak to phrasing for episode sort list.
- FIX: Don’t refresh metadata when asked to re-analyze media.
- FIX: Fix an occasion hang where the media server would become unresponsive to requests.
- FIX: Watched/unwatched episode counts could get out of sync after a scan.
- FIX: Filter out non-ASCI characters from EXIF tags.
- FIX: Scanner crashes analyzing DNG files from Lightroom 4.1
- FIX: Occasional crash when scanner exits.
- FIX: Sort files before handing them to the scanners.
- FIX: Run photo and music analysis two at a time, which speeds things up even more.
- FIX: Reduction of memory and thread usage.
- FIX: (DLNA) Fixes for remote/shared server access.
- FIX: (DLNA) Fix when DlnaDeviceDiscoveryInterval was 0.
- FIX: (DLNA) Fix issue with XBox360 and MOV files with 64-bit offsets.
- FIX: (DLNA) OnBrowseMetadata returned wrong content, fixes XBMC playback.
- FIX: (DLNA) Profile for Panasonic Viera TVs.
- FIX: (API) Send back titles with library timeline notifications (for Plex/Web).
- FIX: (API) An issue where WebSocket got closed prematurely.
- FIX: (API) WebSocket handshake failed when URL has X-Plex-Token in it.
- FIX: (API) A few WebSockets crashes.
- FIX: (API) Ensure lastAccessedAt attribute always present for channel listing.
- FIX: (API) Ensure the endpoint which stops a scan doesn’t return until the scan actually stops.
- FIX: (API) Return library section XML when POSTing a new section.
- FIX: (API) Fix a case where library background art endpoint didn’t work.
- FIX: (API) Allow PUT /library/metadata/X to take multiple IDs.
- FIX: (API) myPlex signups work again.
- FIX: (API) Return errors from myPlex when signups don’t work.
- FIX: (API) When sorting by title, actually use the sort title.
- FIX: (API) Expose Flash/Silverlight installation state, start state via root XML.
About 10 weeks ago, we did something a little different: We released a new Plex web app into the hands of our PlexPass members. The app wasn’t finished by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a giant step towards replacing the aging and slow Plex web manager (and the aging and slow Cocoa manager on OS X), and a giant leap into the future, where you could access, organize, and play all of your media from anywhere in the world with just a web browser.
Releasing as early as we did to a group so passionate about Plex was an unqualified success. Over this period, we made about 10 releases of the app into PlexPass, adding features, implementing your suggestions, and fixing the bugs you reported. We want to thank you all – from the bottom of our hearts – for your help and feedback. Because of you, we have a much better app to show as a result.
To those who are not yet PlexPass members, we are shortly going to be releasing into your hands something that we’re very proud of. We’re confident that because of this PlexPass “gauntlet” it had to pass through, you’re getting a better app than you otherwise would have, and mostly likely sooner than you would have otherwise gotten it. Those guys really held our feet to the fire And if you would like to help shape Plex, and get early access to cool stuff, you can sign up here!
During the same period, we also made three pre-releases of the next Plex Media Server to PlexPass members, with added API functionality for Plex/Web and a few other really cool things we wanted to preview. One of those is a new transcoder which goes idle when it gets ahead, instead of simply taking up the entire CPU. It also supports subtitles on the PS3. We’ll release it publicly at the same time as Plex/Web.
At around the same time as we launch Plex/Web and the new media server, we’ll be introducing a brand new preview for our PlexPass members, of a premium feature. We can’t say anything more about it except that if you have a mobile device, we think you’ll really, really like it.
Without further ado, let’s take a quick tour through some of the coolest things we’ve added to Plex/Web in this period. First up, something that’s been requested for literally years, multi-selection. Type in “star wars” in the quick filter, select all the movies, and add them to a new collection. Or delete the ones with Jar Jar.
We’ve also added support for universal search. Quickly search for movies, artist, albums, shows, episodes, and online videos from a single place. I do love my zombie movies, apparently.
Sometimes it’s late at night, we’re all hanging out in the Plex chat room, and someone says “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” That’s how remote playback got added; that’s right, you can now fling media from any web browser to Plex apps which support remote control.
We’ve also added support for audio stream and subtitle selection, as well as actually displaying subtitles in the player.
We’ve also added support for browsing audio and photo channels (and improved support for video channels).
The On Deck feature is super popular, so we added an easy one-click way to access it inside sections.
One of our foremost goals with Plex/Web was to greatly improve the “first run” experience for new users. Historically, on OS X we had a wizard, but it was out of date; on Linux and Windows, we didn’t have anything at all. We’re now thrilled that Plex/Web has an extensive setup wizard which integrates myPlex setup, lets you drag the bookmarklet right from the wizard, and lots of other stuff.
Last, but not least, the media server keeps a rich universe of information about your media, and we’re trying to do more to expose it. To this end, we added a nice “media info” dialog which shows lots of details. Media nerds will love it, and it’ll definitely help for diagnostic purposes.
In summary, Plex/Web kicks some galactic-level derrière. Coming soon, to a browser near you…
(And if you’re dying to check it out right now, get yourself a backstage PlexPass…)91 comments