Podcasting and RSS
Syndication feeds are a way to present the content of your blog in a way that automated systems can understand. (“RSS” stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, which describes the intended experience for you, the end user.) In some cases, these automated systems can present that content to end users - those applications are known as “feed readers.” There are lots of other uses for these feeds, though; podcasts are delivered via RSS feeds with a few additional elements.
By default, myWebLog blogs have the site-wide feed, category feeds, and tag feeds all enabled, with the file name of
feed.xml and containing the same number of posts as the post index pages. This supports the following URLs:
[blog-root]/feed.xmlis the site-wide feed; all posts appear in this feed.
[blog-root]/category/[slug]/feed.xmlis the feed for the given category. A particular category's feed includes its posts and the posts of all of its subcategories.
[blog-root]/tag/[tag-url]/feed.xmlis the feed for the give tag. If there is a tag mapping defined for the tag, it is translated to the original tag.
The above behavior can be customized. Click “Settings” from the menu, then “RSS Settings” below the title for that page. In the top section of this page:
- Feeds Enabled allows the site-wide feed, the automatic category feeds, and the automatic tag feeds to be enabled or disabled.
- Feed File Name is the name where the enabled feeds are served. As an example, changing this from
rsswould mean that all of the URLs listed above would be served ending in
- Items in Feed controls how many posts appear in each feed.
0means that the feed will use the “Posts per Page” setting for the blog; this setting applies to all of the enabled feeds.
- Copyright String is optional and, if present, is applied verbatim to the
copyrightelement of each enabled feed. It is free-form text (but no HTML); for open-source, Creative Commons, or other licensed content, consider using an SPDX license string.
Custom RSS Feeds
Even if category or tag feeds are disabled site-wide, you can still define a custom feed based on a category or tag. These custom feeds can also allow you to specify the feed name for the feed, and are the basis for podcast feeds (which receive their own section below). The lower section of the RSS Settings page lists all custom feeds, and clicking “Add a New Custom Feed” displays the custom feed page. The non-podcast fields:
- Relative Feed Path will be appended to the blog's base path; this should be unique within the blog. If we wanted to make a category feed for “Actors” / “Jerry Seinfeld”, we could enter
jerry.xmlhere. The effect would be the same as the category feed at
/category/actors/jerry-seinfeld/feed.xml, but will still work even if category feeds are disabled.
- Feed Source is the category or tag off which the feed will be based. The categories defined for the blog are listed in a drop-down list, while the tag field is free-form text. For mapped tags, this tag should be the original tag, not the mapped value.
For non-podcast feeds, that is it! If the feed is a podcast, though, keep reading.
Podcast feeds are supported as an extension on custom RSS feeds. Before we go much further, though, let's define a few terms.
- An “iPod ®” is a portable audio player, released in October 2001 by Apple.
- A “podcast” is a feed which contains content, originally developed to deliver content to the above portable audio player.
- An “episode” is an instance of an audio or video file (and related assets) released to a podcast feed.
If you plan to use myWebLog to serve a podcast feed, you must agree to the following:
I, [state your name], do solemnly swear:
- that I understand the difference between a podcast and an episode;
- that I will never refer to an episode as a “podcast”;
- that I will, under no circumstances, ever refer to it as a “pod”;
so help me God.
With that out of the way…
Clicking “This Is a Podcast Feed” will enable the podcast-related fields.
- Title is the title for the podcast, displayed in podcast indexes and players.
- Subtitle is a subtitle for the podcast; it is optional.
- # Episodes is the number of episodes that appear in the feed. Every post for the selected category or tag applies to this count, even if the post does not have media defined.
- iTunes Category and iTunes Subcategory are a classification for the podcast. While podcasts do not have to be registered with iTunes, other podcast indexes use these classifications as well. There is a link to look up the values allowed in these fields.
- Explicit Rating has three selections - “Yes”, “No”, and “Clean”. If the podcast regularly has explicit content, this should be set to “Yes”. (Episodes can have their own ratings.)
- Displayed Author is the “artist” field for the podcast.
- Author E-mail is the e-mail address for the podcast author. For iTunes registration, this must be the e-mail address of the Apple account under which the podcast is registered.
- Default Media Type defines the media distributed with this podcast feed. It is optional; however, it defaults to
audio/mpeg, which is the proper setting for an audio podcast. As with the explicit rating, each episode can specify/override this setting.
- Image URL is a link to the podcast-level cover art. If the URL entered here starts with
http, it will be placed in the feed as-is; if a relative URL is entered, it will be appended to the blog base URL.
- Summary is a short description of the podcast, and is optional. For a podcast based on our example Seinfeld content, this could be “Join Alice and Bob as they reminisce about their favorite 90s sitcom”.
- Media Base URL is used to construct absolute links to the media for each episode. If the media is hosted elsewhere, or should go through a link counter, enter the URL here. For example, if your media is hosted at
https://my-podcast.example.com/media/, enter that URL in this box; then, if the podcast episode media is
20220515.mp3, the combined URL will be a good absolute link to the media file. (Without entering this here, you would need to specify the entire path for each episode.)
- Funding URL and Funding Text are used in some players to generate a link to a page describing how your listeners can support your podcast. The URL can be a relative link to the web log, or can be an absolute URL to another site; the text is limited to 128 characters.
- Podcast GUID is a unique identifier issued to the podcast when it is registered with Podcast Index. (TODO: link to how it is calculated) Once this value is entered, it should not be changed.
- Medium describes the content of the podcast. Some players use this to adjust equalization or change how episodes are presented.
(Episode-level settings are described in the post documentation.)