Announcing Podlove Publisher 2.4 Beta

Hello there.

It’s time for a significant Publisher update. We are on the verge to release version 2.4 which focuses on tracking and analytics as well as general stability. See the preliminary changelog for details.

This time we decided to do a public beta test before unleashing the beast. If you feel adventurous, please try the Beta and let us know how it works for you.

How to get the 2.4 Beta

We distribute betas in a separate plugin. This plugin is not available through the WordPress plugin directory. You need to install it manually:

  1. Download the latest version: https://github.com/podlove/podlove-beta-tester/archive/master.zip
  2. In WordPress, go to Plugins > Add New and choose Upload Plugin
  3. Upload the zip file you downloaded in step 1.
  4. Once you have activated the plugin, go to Settings > Podlove Beta Tester and choose the beta you you want to join. Check for plugin updates and you should see a beta update (look at the version number). Note that you only see betas for plugins you have already installed (you need to have the “Podlove Publisher” plugin installed if you want to join its beta).

What to test

The most critical new component is a “Background Job” system.

Crunching numbers for Analytics takes time, especially for popular podcasts with many downloads. The old system was written optimistically and “let’s-hope-we-finish-before-we-run-out-of-time”-ish. That was certainly good enough for podcasts with a few hundred downloads per episode, but more likely a gamble for popular shows.
To solve this issue in a scaleable way, we built what is known as “background processing” or “queues”. That way we can break big tasks into small chunks and process them step by step.

Since this is the new backbone of Analytics, thorough testing is required. Please check the following:

  • totals per episode update (roughly) hourly
  • daily/weekly aggregates in the Analytics Dashboard update daily
  • in the new “Tools” section analytics recalculation can be started manually and the tasks finish within seconds or minutes (depending on how many total downloads your podcast has)

Apart from that, feel free to report any other bugs and oddities you may encounter.

Read the full changelog for details.

How to provide Feedback

Head over to https://community.podlove.org/c/podlove-publisher, open a new topic and share your issues, questions or delights.

Thank you :)

WordPress Plugin for Podlove Subscribe Button updated

We have recently updated the Podlove Subscribe Button WordPress Plugin to version 1.3. It now supports more customization for selecting cover images and button language and should make life easier for podcasters who are not using the Podlove Publisher but want easy integration with our Subscribe Button.

Don’t be confused: this plugin is not the Subscribe Button itself. It is a helper plugin to properly and easily embed the Subscribe Button into any WordPress blog even if it is not publishing any podcasts.

Future versions of this plugin might add integration with other common podcast plugins so that meta data needs not to be entered manually. Stay tuned.

Thanks to Alex who mainly contributed to this update.

Publisher Weekly: Web Edition

The newsletter Publisher Weekly has found its way into the web. You can find an archive of all previous articles in our Podlove Community:

https://community.podlove.org/c/podlove-publisher/publisher-weekly

If you prefer an RSS feed to subscribe, your wishes have been heard:

https://community.podlove.org/c/podlove-publisher/publisher-weekly.rss

The web version of the newsletter is edited to make sense in that context and only contains the article of each letter. When you subscribe to the newsletter by email, you will receive it quicker and there is also a personal timely introduction.

So if you want the full scoop, I still recommend you go subscribe the traditional way. But if you prefer to read on the web or RSS, you now have a choice.

Software updates for using the Podlove Subscribe Button

We have recently told you about the new design of the Podlove Subscribe Button and we are happy to have collected mostly positive feedback since then. However, people also asked how to leverage the new features. Let’s talk bit more about that.

We have recently updated both the Podlove Publisher (2.3.12) and the dedicated Podlove Subscribe Button (1.2) WordPress plugins to show an expected set of controls to make use of the new button.

Both plugins provide a dedicated WordPress widget to easily include a button in the design of your choice in one of your sidebars. It also supports the new WordPress Customises enabling a live preview while changing the button’s properties:

Psb widget editor

If you are using the Podlove Publisher, the builtin widget is made for showing a subscribe button for your own podcast. As all the information about this is already known, you just have to take care of the shiny details of how the button should look like on your page.

The dedicated Podlove Subscribe Button plugin allows easy integration of the button for any podcast you have the necessary information for so you can show a button for other podcasts (or your own if you are not yet using the publisher).

I hope these updates serve you well and please don’t stop to provide feedback about the button. Use Twitter (@podlove_org) or our Podlove Community for questions and suggestions.

Podlove @ re:publica 2014

At re:publica 2014, project founder Tim Pritlove gave a talk on Podlove, the project’s recent achievements and future directions. It’s a good summary of how we think about Podcasting and what we think the podcasting infrastructure should evolve into: The Podlove Matrix.

We get by with a little help from our friends

Podlove is an open source project and is creating truly free software (under the MIT license) to be used by anybody. And in the last two years we have come a long way.

The team has grown step by step and the software has been improving steadily. The most recent release of the Podlove Publisher has delivered a ton of enhancements and we are still not running out of ideas on how to improve and solidify the system to be even more versatile.

Last year we started our first round of crowd funding to get the financial support we need to keep our core developer Eric away from boring jobs (he spent around two days a week on Podlove and wants to continue to do so this year) and to fund the infrastructure, other expenses and travel costs needed for the rest of the team.

This has worked out really great: in the last year we collected around 10.000 EUR which was more or less exactly what we needed. But now the funds are mostly used up so we’d like to ask you for your continued financial support of our project to be able to proceed with our quest and deliver even more cool stuff during 2014.

Our Agenda

Release 1.10 of the Podlove Publisher has already brought a long list of improvements and bug fixes featuring the amazing new programmable templates that will make setup and customisation of your podcast site much, much easier than before.

So what’s next? It’s always difficult to make promises and define roadmaps but we have a good grasp of what kind of problems we’d like to tackle. So here is what we like to do in the near future.

Top of the list is the need for viable statistics. We are planning to come up with a complete tracking framework with beautiful download statistics in the admin interface. And we also want to provide the necessary glue for detailed statistics on the server side by third-party scripts like Pentastats (or other log file consuming monsters) by associating URLs with episodes. We have thought about this a lot and we think we have an approach that can workand that you will all like.

Another top priority is the Podlove Web Player. This baby hasn’t been upgraded a lot recently but we are now making good progress as we have spent a lot of time on mockups, UI scenarios, discussing timeline metadata and refactoring the code. We are planning big changes to the player to make it more flexible, more reliable, much nicer to look at and enriched with great metadata that will once more redefine how podcasts are published and consumed on the web.

We also have plans to make the overall system much easier to set up (adding some initial wizardry for first time users), make migration from other podcast installations easier (including migrating by reading a podcast feed), track internal errors and configuration mixups and to improve both the user experience and the documentation significantly. We are also planning to translate the user interface to many other languages once we feel we have stabilised the overall UI.

And that’s just the work we’d like to put into the Podlove Publisher and the Podlove Web Player. There are some other ambitious experiments in preparation that we’re going to talk in the future (“when it’s ready”) and that even address areas beyond podcasting.

Until then, thanks for your support. The podcasting community has supported us in a way an open source project can only dream of. We hope you will be pleased with our results.

Donate to Podlove

On Being German

flag-of-germanyIn a few months, we are hosting the next Podlove Podcaster Workshop in Berlin in May (3rd/4th). It will the third of its kind and the fifth Podlove Workshop in total so far. Target group for this workshop is podcasters and developers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So the event will be in German only.

Well, you might ask: “your website is in english, the plugin is in english and you present yourself in an international appeal – why is there no international event in english?”. Good question. Let me explain the reasoning behind this and how we want to proceed in the future.

We know we have embarked on a long trip here. Producing capable and stable software on the one hand and to create highly useful standards on the other side is no easy task. In order to achieve these goals, you need to build a strong community that is willing to test and use your stuff from the get-go and will provide quality feedback as you go along.

Being centred in Germany, this project decided to focus on the German speaking community first because this gives us the chance to deal with our initial growing pains in our native language and in a well-understood culture. It really helps. With our “local” workshops we also create new bonds among those who use the software and work with us on many technical levels. So far, this has worked really well for us.

But that doesn’t mean we are not open for anybody else. Our website, software, documentation and personal communication is all in Interlang (aka English). And we are really thinking about launching some kind of European conference in the near future. But before this will happen we want to have our strategy in place and our software in use by much more people outside the realm of the German language. Once we see enough interest, we might come up with something special.

However, this should not stop you from downloading and using our software, read into our specifications and open code and get in touch with us when you have questions, suggestions, criticism or if you want to offer your help. And in no way should you consider Podlove to be for Germans only, because it’s not.

Interview about Podlove at Podcast Squared

On the July 8th, tech show “Podcast Squared” posted a new episode interviewing me about all things Podlove.

While we are busy producing more documentation in english including a longer series of screencasts to make setup and operation of podcasts with our tools easier, this interview might give you more insights into our general approach, how we see podcasting and what some of our future goals are.

Thanks to host Andrew Johnstone of Podcast Squared for the invitation. There is no better place to talk about podcasts than podcasts.

If you are running a show on podcasts or if you are interested in our work in general, feel free to contact us. We’d love to get in touch and explain what we do and what we are aiming for.