Geek Friday: Podcast Generator Review

I wanted to add a podcast in addition to (not a part of) another blog I run.  I looked at several WordPress plugins, but they all assumed I would put them into posts.  That’s not really an addition, though, and my feeling was that would be off-putting to current subscribers to boot.

Not that there weren’t any serious contenders, though.  PodPress sounded like a possibility, and with a little work may have even been able to separate the RSS feeds, if I am reading the description correctly.  Still, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

Podcast Generator

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned, but I like some degree of organization and separation.  At any rate, I had already implemented a solution using  Podcast Generator, which isn’t a plugin at all but an entire PHP program downloadable from SourceForge.net.  However, it can be put into a subdirectory and driven from a menu link from your regular blog site, yet it has its own RSS feed which won’t interfere with the blog’s RSS feed.  Pretty slick.

It will create the necessary RSS XML files for you, and it automatically archives podcasts.  You can upload through the interface, which is easy to use, or you can FTP the file up to the directory and add it through the FTP feature.

It’s not without its difficulties, however.  Yet, it seems that there are ways to work around the ones I have found.

The first issue was that the download link would seem to not work too well on an iPhone.  Granted, I would hope someone would use an aggregator, such as iTunes, to manage podcasts on a mobile, but there was nothing to stop someone from doing it, either.  The main problem is that it will stop at some point and restart the podcast – over and over again.  Not real cool.  The author is looking into this, but the real solution is for them to subscribe using iTunes, Downcast or some other podcast program.

The second issue was odd as well.  I delayed uploading it to iTunes because I could not get the image to display correctly.  However, if you set it for each individual episode, it does work for the iTunes display as well.

Caveats

Those are the only bugs I am aware of, but there is one other item that takes some real getting used to.

I started off naming my episode files yyyy-mm-dd Name.mp3, where yyyy is the year, mm is the month and dd is the day of the month.  However, Podcast Generator does that automatically!  So, I would wind up with filenames like yyyy-mm-dd_yyyy-mm-dd_name.mp3.

I didn’t mind the lowcasing of the names or the replacing of the spaces with underscores, but the addition of the dates on the front certainly looked odd.  So, I just began leaving that part off and let the program rename it for me.  I then could always download the file later for backup.  In reality, it pays to do so anyhow so you can make sure the final podcast is really what you wanted!

I guess the only other “caveat” (and I use the word loosely here) is the somewhat plain looking interface.  I only mention this, frankly, because I can see someone dissing it because of the look.  I want to remind you, however, that once it is in a podcast aggregator, the subscriber isn’t going to see the interface unless they have to reinstall something or change devices.

Still, if looks are of primary importance, then I would recommend instead using one of the plugins.

Of course, it obviously won’t record the podcast for you, create the MP3 file or trigger an upload automatically for you.  It won’t submit the feed to iTunes or FeedBurner, and you’ll be responsible for letting people know your podcast is out there.  You’ll still have to do all these things yourself.  However, it does most of the rest of it.

Would I Recommend It?

The most telling of any review is whether or not I would recommend it to a friend or customer, and the answer is “Yes”.  Once you get the system up and working, it works quite well.  While I would like to be able to set a few more defaults (like the image and iTunes categories), it is easy to use.

I’d say out of 5 stars, it rates at least a 4.  It is functional and has very few bugs in reality.  While it has a simple interface, the simplicity is perhaps what keeps it from being filled with bugs.

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