One of the few things I managed to get done last week was to submit the enhanced podcast (AAC) version of the Coalface Tech RSS feed to Apple for inclusion in the iTunes podcast directory.
Actually it’s remarkably straightforward but here’s a few pointers for anyone who is getting started with this podcasting lark.
First up – you need to understand that there are two things called iTunes:
- Apple’s online store with audio and video content (depending on whereabouts you live in the world).
- Apple’s media player for Windows and Macintosh PCs, used by millions of iPod and iPhone owners worldwide (as well as many people with other devices, I’m sure).
Next – you need to understand that podcasts are generally distributed using an RSS feed (just like blogs but with enclosures containing the media files). The RSS feed is structured using XML.
You can subscribe directly to the RSS feed (and even view it in a browser), or you can use a podcast directory (such as the iTunes Store).
James had created the original XML for our RSS feeds (one for the MP3 version and one for the AAC version of the podcast) using a feed generator (I’m not sure which one he used but there is a basic podcast RSS generator available in the TD Scripts webmaster utilities). Not all feed generators support the iTunes-specific metatags though and it’s useful to know what these do.
Armed with the two feeds (one with iTunes metatags for the AAC feed and one without for the MP3 which is not on iTunes), I tested them in my iTunes client application (selecting Subscribe to Podcast… from the Advanced menu to see what metadata is displayed in the feed and the downloaded episodes). This let me tune the tags until I saw something that approximated the desired information.
Once I knew the XML was correctly formatted (tested in iTunes and in various web browsers), the final versions were uploaded to the web (in testing you can use any accessible HTTP server but for live deployment you probably want to think about providing a reasonably permanent URL and the media files themselves need to be somewhere that bandwidth is not a problem – for Coalface Tech, that hosting is kindly provided by Australian Personal Computer, Internode and Sun Microsystems but I also considered using Liberated Syndication).
Next-up was time to submit the podcast to Apple for inclusion. There is a moderation process but within 24 hours we had received confirmation that we were live in the iTunes directory!
And that was about it really – remarkably straightforward, especially when armed with Apple’s detailed instructions for making a podcast.
All I need to do each time we create a new episode is update the XML for the RSS feeds (create a new
section for each episode) and notify iTunes that we have posted a new episode (although it should automatically check every day).