What You Need To Know About WordPress Podcasts

wordpress plugin
Danny Wirken:

WordPress is a blogging platform that has podcasting support. A podcast is a pre-recorded audio program, very much like a radio program that is listened to on the computer. Podcasting is distributing audio or video content via RSS 2.0 or atom as WordPress creates all the necessary links for the site.

Using WordPress for Podcasting

WordPress works for podcasting. It starts with the creation of a video or audio that is intended to be shared. The file is uploaded to a server and the line to the file is posted in the weblog. WordPress automatically includes a link to the file in the RSS/Atom feed. Listeners will then subscribe to the feed where new files are downloaded automatically.

Podcasting is supported by WordPress 1.5. Linking to an audio file in one of the posts will result to WordPress automatically adding the enclosure tag to the RSS2 feed to make it usable as a podcast. It is important to use a complete and absolute URL when linking to an audio file or WordPress will not be able to make an enclosure for it.

The RSS2 feed should be made available by putting a linking somewhere on the page. As of WordPress 1.5, the RSS 2.0/Atom links are located at the bottom of the page by default. This only works for posts and not for static pages. When a linked file is inaccessible upon publishing of the post, WordPress will not be able to collect the information it needs from the linked files.

A change in the linked file would require refurbishing of the posts so that WordPress can update its file size information about the file. In order for WordPress to recognize m4a and m4b files as podcast, the web server has to be configured to serve the right content type. An XML at the end of the RSS/Atom URL may occasionally be needed for it to work properly.

Dedicated podcast feeds can be made by creating a category in the Admin>Manage>Categories panel for the audio files, and a post containing an audio link must be assigned to every category. If audio file are being hosted on http://archive.org, a custom field called “enclosure” should be added and the full URL is posted for the MP3 file in the value field.

Podcasting allows anyone to create his/her own audio programming and deliver it via the web. The usual way of distributing podcasts are through RSS enclosures as it allows the reference of binary data from within the RSS feed. Podcast readers subscribe to the RSS feed and download the audio files contained in the enclosures. The downloaded audio files are then moved to a portable audio player for later consumption.

Of WordPress Plugins

There are resources that will help in getting to know the WordPress blog platform better. The WordPress podcast features easy and understandable commentaries about WordPress plus a couple of plugins. It is a great learning resource for any skill or experience level. The Diagnosis plugin presents the detailed information about the server, operating system and the database. It is presented in a way that could be understood by the least technically-inclined person using it. Most will be able to appreciate its rich tech content.

The PodPress plugin is designed to make podcasting with WordPress as easy as possible. It has several features that will make its use fruitful to the user. It has full featured and automatic feed generation as well as auto generation of enclosure tag. It provides a preview of what the podcast would look like on iTunes. The podcast is able to download stats and there is support provided for premium content for pay accounts. This plugin makes adding a podcast to a post very simple and makes possible the viewing of MP3 files’ ID3 tag information. The contents of the ID3 tags can even be copied into the post.

It likewise provides control where the player will display within the posts. Support for various formats including video podcasting is given while it facilitates support for unlimited number of media files. It has automatic media player for MP3, MP4, MOV, FLV, ASF, WMV, AVI and others. It also includes in-line and Pop-up Windows support and provides preview image for videos.

The Mechanics of Podcasting

Podcasting’s publish/subscribe model makes use of the push technology wherein the information provider chooses which files to offer in a feed and the subscriber chooses among available feed channels. As a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program which is made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player, podcasting makes use of an automatic mechanism that transfers multi-media computer files from a server to a client. Podcasts are generally analogous to a recorded television or radio server.

The content provider starts by making a file available on the Internet usually by posting the file on a publicly-available web server. However, it is not technically necessary that the file be publicly accessible but it is required that it be accessible through some known URL or a general-purpose Internet address. He then acknowledges the existence of the file by referencing it in another file known as the feed.

The feed is a machine-readable list of the URLs by which episodes of the show may be accessed. One episode refers to the originally made file while the list provides other information such as publish dates, titles and accompanying text description of the series, and each of its episodes. This list can either be published in RSS format and less frequently in atom format.

Feeds may contain entries for all episodes in the series but are usually limited to a short list of the most recent episodes. A feed from one author is commonly used for standard podcasts but the practice of having multiple authors contribute episodes to a single podcast feed is fast becoming popular. The location known as the feed URI or feed URL at which the feed is posted by the content provider is expected to be permanent. This is to be made known to the intended audience.

The user enters the feed URI into a software called a podcatcher or aggregator which retrieves and processes data from the said feed. A podcatcher is a program which starts when the computer is started and runs in the background. A set of feed URIs is managed by it which is added by the user and downloaded at a specified interval. Any substantive change in the feed data from the time it was previously checked will trigger automatic downloading of the location of the most recent item to the user’s computer. Some podcatchers make the newly downloaded episodes available to a user’s portable media player. Downloaded episodes can be played, replayed, or archived like any other computer file.

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