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Podcasting 104

Building your RSS Feed By Stephen Schleicher

Youve made it this far.  In this mini course you have learned how to subscribe to a podcast, how to record your own show, and even how to hook up interviews from across the miles.  You are now ready to create your RSS/XML feed.  There is a bit of coding involved, but its easy once you follow these steps.

You dont need a special program to generate the feed for your podcast.  There are several out there, but come on, you are a pro, you dont need any of that fancy stuff.  You are a purist.  All you need is a text application like Notepad or Textedit.

First an overview.  Each RSS feed contains a number of items, which defines each podcast.  Every new podcast needs to have its own item.  Each item is enclosed in a Channel that tells how each of the items are related to one another.  In the case of a podcast, the Channel will be the overall description of your show.  All of these elements are wrapped up with the RSS tag.


So a simple outline of a RSS feed would look like
<rss>
<channel>
<item>
</item>
<item>
</item>
</channel>
</rss>

Of course it is a little more complex than that as the channel and items need titles, descriptions, and links to make them work.  Lets work from the middle out using an imaginary podcast.

David Nagels Super Podcast
All Nagel All the Time!

David Nagels Super Podcast is all about how super David Nagel is.  In each episode, David Nagel talks about the great and wonderful things that are going on in his life.

October 5, 2005
Episode One:  My first podcast.  In this podcast David Nagel introduces himself to the world.  He also spends a few minutes interviewing Steve Jobs.  By the time the episode is over, you too will be a fan of all things Nagel.
Run Time: 30 minutes

Since you want to link to Episode One, you need to create an item:
19.  <item>

This tells the RSS Reader that an item is beginning.

20.  <title>David Nagels Super Podcast</title>

As you would expect, this is the title of the show. 

21.  <link>http://www.YOURWEBSITE.com/nagelsuperpodcast100505.mp3</link>

This creates a direct hyperlink to the MP3 file.  If you are doing a weekly podcast, you may want to get in the habit of using a prefix that is the name of the show, and a suffix with the date of the show.  So next weeks episode would be nagelsuperpodcast101205.mp3, and so on.  Make sure the directory structure is correct to ensure you dont have any broken links.

22.  <description> Episode One:  My first podcast.  In this podcast David Nagel introduces himself to the world.  He also spends a few minutes interviewing Steve Jobs.  By the time the episode is over, you too will be a fan of all things Nagel.</description>

Between the description tags you should add the information you will use to attract the potential listener to this episode.

23.  <pubDate>Wed, 05 Oct 2005 018:00:00 CST</pubDate>

The pubDate area is one of those tags that are very specific and must be done exactly for the feed to be valid.  All date-times in RSS must conform to the Date and Time Specification of RFC 822.  Many of the problems that cause the RSS feed to not validate are often due to a mistake in this region.

The data in this region will be used in iTunes under the Release Date column.  pubDate is not a required RSS tag for podcasts, but if you are submitting to iTunes it should be included.

For more on the RFC 822 specification for date and time be sure tocheck out this site .

24.  <enclosure url=" http://www.YOURWEBSITE.com/ nagelsuperpodcast100505.mp3" length="19256097" type="audio/mp3" />

The enclosure is a RSS 2.0 feature that reads what type of file is enclosed, and more importantly how large it is.  In this case, the enclosure contains the URL to the file that is identical to the link information entered above, how large the file is, and the file type.

In order to find the Length information, Right Click the MP3 file on your hard drive, then select Get Info (Mac) or Properties (PC).  You want the actual number of bytes for the file. Enter this information without any commas. 

25.  <itunes:duration>30:00</itunes:duration>

This is an iTunes specific tag for the length of the show.  This information will show up in the Time column of iTunes.

26.  <itunes:keywords>meet david nagel super podcast mac computers wonderful life interview steve jobs rules</itunes:keywords>

Like meta tags in HTML, the itunes:keywords are ways listeners can search for content in iTunes.  Make sure the keywords entered are specific for this episode.  So if you the show had an interview with Steve Jobs, make sure you put that in the keywords.  Unlike meta tags, you do not put commas between the keywords.
 
27.  </item>

This indicates that the item is closed.

Here is the complete code:

19.  <item>
20.  <title>David Nagels Super Podcast</title>
21.  <link>http://www.YOURWEBSITE.com/nagelsuperpodcast100505.mp3</link>
22.  <description> Episode One:  My first podcast.  In this podcast David Nagel introduces himself to the world.  He also spends a few minutes interviewing Steve Jobs.  By the time the episode is over, you too will be a fan of all things Nagel.</description>
23.  <pubDate>Wed, 05 Oct 2005 018:00:00 CST</pubDate>
24.  <enclosure url=" http://www.YOURWEBSITE.com/ nagelsuperpodcast100505.mp3" length="19256097" type="audio/mp3" />
25.  <itunes:duration>30:00</itunes:duration>
26.  <itunes:keywords>meet david nagel super podcast mac computers wonderful life interview steve jobs rules</itunes:keywords>
27.  </item>

If you only want listeners to be able to access the most current episode, simply replace the old content with the new.  If you want to create an archive of multiple episodes, create a new <item> and repeat the process.

 

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