Plex Labs
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Plex Labs

Plex Dash

A dash of power for your server

Since its inception, the best place for administering and curating your Plex Media Server has always been our awesome web app. Just over a year ago, we also added a powerful dashboard to provide monitoring capabilities. At the same time, a lot has changed in the last half-decade, and an increasing number of people want—nay, demand—first class functionality on mobile devices.

After rewriting Plexamp to run on iOS and Android, we thought we had a great opportunity to explore building a mobile app for media server owners, without incurring a platform multiplier and also reusing lots of components from Plexamp. It also seemed like a great case for a separate app, as opposed to trying to cram the functionality inside our existing (consumption-focused) apps.

The goals for Plex Dash were similar to those for Plexamp—building a fun user-focused application which could also serve as a platform for exploring new functionality and interactions. After a few months of work, we’re finally ready to share the results with you!

Command Center

You pull into your Batcave in your (modified, clearly) CyberBatTruck, leap out (cape trailing) and settle into your (unmodified) Herman Miller chair. A wave of the hand turns on the wall of monitors; you lean back, put your BatBoots up, and watch your Plex Media Server hard at work.

It was clear to us that the primary user task was to answer “what’s my server doing?” so we built a data-rich screen to show all the plays as beautiful cards (using Plexamp’s UltraBlur for backgrounds and seekprints for audio). On tablet devices the cards form a grid, so you can—as we cheekily suggested in the App Store description which somehow Apple didn’t notice—duct tape your iPad to the wall in landscape mode. What’s the matter, you don’t like duct tape?

iOS & Android, not socially distancing

Front and center is playback, but we also keep track of sync and other background conversion, as well as DVR recording activity. To make it extra useful for power users, we aggregate all of this across all your servers, in real-time.

History

Since even Batman has to sleep, we also have a rich per-server history view where you can slice and dice and scroll through history to see what’s been played on your server. Pro tip: If you’re running one of the latest server versions, you can even swipe to delete entries, because let’s face it, that third viewing of Marley & Me probably wasn’t your finest hour.

Dark mode? Light mode? Yes!

Charts

Life isn’t always a competition, but sometimes it certainly seems like it is. And when it is, it should be beautiful, so we designed a charts screen for you to see how your media stacks up. Why is Death Cab for Cutie always at the top? Because Ben Gibbard is awesome, that’s why. You always pivot from a history or a chart entry to get full history for that item as well, or search for media on the search tab.

They just can’t write a bad album

Libraries

On the libraries screen you can kick off a scan for new media, see a visual history of growth, and even tweak library settings. We also really wanted to offer a way to curate library artwork in a fun way which would highlight image quality by displaying it as large as possible, so we build an artwork browser which allows you to swipe through posters, flip the poster over to select a new one, and do it all single-handedly. Swipe left! Swipe right! Get that artwork pristine.

Under the Hood

We wouldn’t be able to call Plex Dash an administrative tool with a straight face unless we had some nerdy features, so of course we included real-time server graphs, media details, and even a live server log viewer if you’re into that sort of thing.

Numbers can be pretty too

You can download Plex Dash for iOS from the App Store and for Android on Google Play. You will need a spiffy PlexPass to use the app. If you don’t have one you, we’d be happy to fix that, your media (and we) will thank you.

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