One usually thinks of podcasts as an audio file. From the point of view of iTunes, a podcast is one of a series of audio or audiovisual files that are released periodically. For example, a radio programme might release podcasts weekly, so its podcast index (the .xml file as we will see below) is updated weekly as a new audio/audio-visual file is added. The great benefit of iTunes is that once the set-up is organised correctly, iTunes will automatically scan to check whether a new podcast has been added to the series (automically using RSS methodology) and if it has, will download the latest additions to the user’s computer once they have subscribed. Its important to note that iTunes does not host the audio files themselves, just the link to the .xml index file that itself links to wherever your podcasts are stored.
To create a podcast series on iTunes, you need an iTunes account, somewhere to host your podcast files, a file that lists all of the individual audio/audiovisual files within a particular podcast (the .xml index file) and an optional image file. The iTunes account is easy to set up, once you have downloaded iTunes. A webspace to host your files costs about €20 per year (I use Blacknight), or you may be able to arrange with your institution to host the files. If you host your own, you will need an FTP progamme to move the files from your desktop onto the webserver, and Filezilla is a very good free one. You then need to create your podcasts – for example using the free software Audacity. The final element then is to create the index file, listing all of your details about the podcast and each individual audio or audiovisual file (called an “item”) within that podcast – this holds all of the information that will appear on iTunes. This is called an .xml file and is easily created. To do this, you could open Notepad, copy and paste the text below (or see similar examples from iTunes) where the text in red is what you would enter. This podcast has two items listed, each one enclosed in the <item>…</item> section. You can remove one or add as many more as you like. Once all the data is added, save the file as filename.xml, with no spaces in the filename. Each time you make a new audio file, you would add a new <item> …. </item> component with all the details of that file and then reupload the filename.xml file to your webspace along with the new audio file (with no spaces in the filename).
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd" version="2.0"> <channel> <title>The title of the series of podcasts would go in here</title> <link>A link to a webpage can go in here (optional)</link> <language>en-us</language> <copyright>your name here</copyright> <itunes:subtitle>Suitable subtitle here</itunes:subtitle> <itunes:author>your name here</itunes:author> <itunes:summary>Short summary of what the series of podcasts is about</itunes:summary> <description>More detailed description if required</description> <itunes:owner> <itunes:name>your name</itunes:name> <itunes:email>you email address</itunes:email> </itunes:owner> <itunes:image href="web link to an image for your podcasts" /> <itunes:category text="Education"> <itunes:category text="Higher Education" /> </itunes:category> <item> <title>First podcast title</title> <itunes:author>Your name</itunes:author> <itunes:subtitle>topic of podcast</itunes:subtitle> <itunes:summary>summary of what this podcast is about</itunes:summary> <enclosure url="Link to mp3 file" length="Size in bytes " type="audio/mpeg" /> <guid>Link to mp3 file</guid> <pubDate>Wed, 10 Nov 2010 16:50:00 GMT</pubDate> <itunes:duration>1:45</itunes:duration> <itunes:keywords>keywords</itunes:keywords> </item><item> <title>Second podcast title</title> <itunes:author>Your name</itunes:author> <itunes:subtitle>topic of podcast</itunes:subtitle> <itunes:summary>summary of what this podcast is about</itunes:summary> <enclosure url="Link to mp3 file" length="Size in bytes" type="audio/mpeg" /> <guid>Link to mp3 file</guid> <pubDate>Wed, 10 Nov 2010 16:50:00 GMT</pubDate> <itunes:duration>1:45</itunes:duration> <itunes:keywords>keywords</itunes:keywords> </item> </channel> </rss>
The links to the mp3 files etc are the weblinks to wherever your mp3 file is saved on the webserver – it will be of the form “http://www.example.com/myfiles/audio/podcast1_1.mp3” for an mp3 file.
When you have completed and uploaded your .xml file, it is worth using a Feed Validator to test the code, before submitting to iTunes. Once this is OK, and at least one audio file have been uploaded, you need to submit your podcast to iTunes for approval. iTunes don’t “test” anything, so your submission should be for the first real podcast. The submission process can take a while, as much as two weeks. Once your podcast is approved, you can update your stream by adding a new <item>…</item> to your .xml file, upload it and the stream will update within a short time. And now you are a podcaster!