Using XBMC Plugins with Plex

After an unfortunate liquid-based incident, my MacBook always needs to be connected to a power source. This requirement means it now lives under the television as a media centre. After trying Frontrow and Boxee, I’ve settled on Plex as my 10-foot interface.

Both Plex and Boxee are based on XBMC, meaning they have a mature, powerful base to build on. Both Plex and Boxee work reasonably smoothly on my first-gen Intel MacBook, but Plex won out because its mac-only outlook means it integrates a little better and I don’t need Boxee’s sharing features, so they just got in the way. If you’re on the look out for a media centre interface, I’d recommend trying them both out. I didn’t try “raw” XBMC in the end.

One of the attractions of Plex is its small “app store”, which has a good variety of plugins. The BBC iPlayer plugin which Plex has in its app store, however, has several rough edges; for example, pause and the search-for-program function don’t work. It turns out that XBMC has a well maintained iPlayer plugin hosted on Google Code. I was intrigued: as Plex is based on XBMC, could I make this plugin work in Plex?

It turns out you can, and it’s actually rather easy when you know how. Whilst this doesn’t seem to be mentioned on the Plex forums or documentation, the XBMC forums have a little more to say. Just download the files for the XBMC plugin and put them in a subfolder of ~/Library/Application Support/Plex/plugins/<plugin type>/ (e.g., in the subfolder iPlayer). In iPlayer’s case, plugin type is video, but you’ll need to make a best-guess for each plugin. I’ve tried out two plugins so far, both video, and both seem to work as advertised.

In addition to Google searching, a good place for XBMC plugins is the semi-official plugin repository here. Finally, as this method doesn’t seem to be officially supported by Plex, I guess “your milage may vary” :)