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.

[podloveaudio permalink=”http://www.podcastsquared.com/2013/07/08/podcast-squared-187-tim-pritlove-from-podlove/” title=”Podcast Squared #187″ subtitle=”Tim Pritlove from Podlove” mp3=”http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/www.podcastsquared.com/episodes/PS187.mp3″ poster=”http://www.podcastsquared.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/podcastsquare3.jpg” duration=”00:49:34″]

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.

Podlove Publisher 1.7

Today we have released version 1.7 of the Podlove Publisher and apart from a few bug fixes and tweaks under the hood, there are two new modules in the package that you might find interesting.

App.net Integration

App.net (ADN) is a promising social network platform that seems to appeal to podcasters and podcast listeners alike and that has some potential for modern social media applications. Our module does just a few basic rather unexciting things: you can log in to you ADN account and the Publisher automatically create public posts pointing to a new episode when you release one. We have plans for more features for this plugin.

Auphonic

Auphonic is a web-based audio post-processing, metadata and encoding service that makes life for podcasters a lot easier. If you are not using it yet, you should strongly consider doing so. And that’s why we are going to integrate Auphonic deeply into the podcast production process (it’s still optional of course).

With this first release of the new Auphonic module (which is about to replace the now deprecated, experimental “Auphonic Production Data” plugin) we let you associate the Publisher with Auphonic by authenticating with your Auphonic user account.

You can then select recent Auphonic productions you have created and import all the metadata with one click. The system will extract the title, subtitle, summary, duration and the episode media file slug from the production. If you have configured the Publisher for manual entry of chapter information, the plugin also retrieves the chapter information from Auphonic if available.

If you have placed all those information in the media files by using Auphonic, it’s now super easy to transfer exactly the same data into your episode description. This should make posting new episodes even easier, less error-prone and also much faster at the same time.

Soon we will add the option to create new productions from your episode data too. This allows to follow a workflow that is defined by collecting all data in the Podlove Publisher first and passing this on to Auphonic. Having both production creation and import at your disposal opens up various workflows that are still easy to use.

Moving on

This release won’t be the last to add significant new stuff to the Publisher. We are addressing a variety of areas to improve the overall publishing experience:

  • Improve visibility of contributors in feeds and the website
  • A versatile conflict management system to ensure podcast integrity to make system setup and maintenance much easier and reliable
  • Generating statistics
  • Improved web player with better UI and embedding capability

Look out for more great news as we move along. And if you feel like you are getting something out of this project, consider a donation. It really helps.

Paged Feeds for Podcasts

Accessing old content using podcast clients has been a problem for a while as podcasters are running into several real world problems when their feeds get too big. We have published an article that describes this problem and also comes up with an interesting solution: Paged Feeds.

And as we try to put the money where our mouth is, we have built-in support for Paged Feeds in the Podlove Publisher. When you set podcast feeds to include only a limited number of items, we automatically create multiple feed pages so that any client supporting paged feeds can still access older episodes going back to the very first episode (you know, the one, that never wanted to hear about again!).

We can also point you to the first podcast client that actually supports this method: Instacast for Mac crawls through every feed page presented to it. It’s a rather simple addition that makes a huge difference.

Put your podcast client of  your choice to a test by “feeding” it with paged-feed-enabled podcast feeds and see if you see all or just a few episodes. And if you don’t, please point the developers to our recommendation make this happen.

Podlove Publisher 1.6

The latest release of the Podlove Publisher finally comes with extensive support for chapter formats for both episode assets and podcast feed support. Although most of this stuff is buried under the hood and there are no visible changes to the UI, let us explain what has actually changed, why this is a big deal and where we want to move from here.

Background

The Podlove Publisher has been focusing on extended metadata from the beginning and chapter marks have been of particular interest ever since because we strongly believe that timeline-related information is a way to significantly increase the value of podcasts for the audience.

We have some plans on how to integrate more of this kind of metadata in the future but we think simple chapter structures are a good start, are rather easy to author and using the Podlove Publisher that information is finally easy to broadcast to the clients too.

So far, the only way to bring chapter information to podcast clients was to use MPEG-4 media files (.mp4) and use tools like Garageband to embed Apple’s more or less proprietary “atoms” to put chapter marks, links and pictures into that files. The iPod (and later the iPhone) read these atoms and provided the chapter information to the user. So far, so good.

The problems were many: Apple’s format was (and remains) officially undocumented (although successfully reengineered), it was restricted to MPEG-4 files and the client needs to download the whole file before being able to present chapters to the user.

We want to ease this process, make it less dependent on proprietary formats and allow extraction of structural information before downloading the media files. The first result was the definition of the Podlove Simple Chapters specification. The next step is the deep integration of that format in the Podlove Publisher.

So what’s new?

So what does the update bring to the table? For a start, the Publisher can now read PSC files natively so that you can use PSC files as episode assets as a source for chapter timeline information. We support the all fields of the specification, including links and images. However, you have to wait until a future update to the Podlove Web Player that this information is passed through to the web page.

In addition to reading PSC format the full chapter information is now communicated in the podcast’s feeds to the client. Every client that is interested in chapter information can now retrieve it directly from the feed and use that information – even before downloading any media file. So the chapter information is totally independent of the media files and can be used by podcast directories, podcast search engines (like Poodle) or other apps without ever having to download any media file.

The Publisher also supports other chapter formats on input like the previously preferred mp4chaps format or WebVTT, but we really think PSC is the most robust way to go.

Partnering with Auphonic

Although the Podlove Publisher is totally independent from other systems we have been conspiring with the great audio web service Auphonic on many levels. We have a very basic integration of Auphonic in the Publisher right now (by reading metadata from Auphonic production files configured as episode assets) but want to integrate it even more as the usefulness of Auphonic for audio podcasting can’t praised enough.

Auphonic has also achieved a lot for podcast metadata behind the scenes: it’s the first service worldwide to actually implement chapter information for MP3 — which has been specified since 2006 — including links and pictures and they have also triggered standardization of chapter marks for Ogg files too.

And starting today, Auphonic offers an interface to add links and images to chapters, write these to all kinds of media files and to create Podlove Simple Chapters too. So if you are into creating high-value structured podcasts, the available infrastructure has improved significantly.

The future of the timeline

The Podlove Simple Chapter specification and its integration in the Podlove Publisher is just the start. Behind the scenes, we are discussing much more detailed metadata concepts to form the Podlove Timeline. But it’s too early to speak about this and we have decided to go forward with this rather simple approach that can make podcasts much better today.

Right now, we are asking podcast client developers to embrace the Podlove Simple Chapter format as a means to improve the experience of the audience and to make us all more independent from complex media file structures that are expensive to load and difficult to parse.

So go and try the Podlove Publisher and test if it suits your needs. We are certainly not addressing everyone’s needs yet but we are moving fast and we have a strong roadmap that will bring a lot more cool stuff to you soon.

Podlove Simple Chapters 1.2

We have updated the Podlove Simple Chapters specification (bumped to version 1.2) updating the syntax for time markers to follow the Normal Play Time (NPT) spec as it is defined by Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) specification (RFC2326).

This does not change much for existing PSC files or implementations as the former specification defined a subset of NPT and is therefore 100% backwards compatible. However, if you are implmenting a PSC parser you should probably make sure time markers can be specified using NPT notation and to accept version “1.2” in PSC files.

We have also converted the specifications to MultiMarkdown format and put it up on Github so you can easily set up pull requests to fix bugs, make the specification clearer or to enhance it in any other way.

Podlove Web Player 2.0

We have just released version 2.0 of the Podlove Web Player and we think it’s great news as it brings quite a few new features on the table.

First of all, the player has been recoded at the core to be completely independent from PHP and WordPress so you can integrate it into any CMS you want. The API is now JavaScript-only but still provides the WordPress-Integration many are using right now (and probably will continue to do so).

We have also brushed up the look and feel of the player and we think it looks much better right now. The default appearance is with all extra panes collapsed in a rounded rectangle style. The chapter list can be expanded on demand as the summary and a new chapter/time navigation pane that also features a simple sharing feature to get a link to the current playback position and to bring up Twitters post interface.

Here is an example on how it looks and works:

[podloveaudio poster=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/mm/mobilemacs-logo-600×600.jpg” title=”MM104 Möglichst nah an der Null” subtitle=”Schon wieder die längste Sendung – ja sind wir hier denn bei den Vogonen?” duration=”05:04:31″ permalink=”http://mobilemacs.de/2013/02/mm104.html” mp3=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/mm/mm104-moeglichst-nah-an-der-null.mp3″ mp4=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/mm/mm104-moeglichst-nah-an-der-null.m4a” ogg=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/mm/mm104-moeglichst-nah-an-der-null.oga” opus=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/mm/mm104-moeglichst-nah-an-der-null.opus” chapters=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/mm/mm104-moeglichst-nah-an-der-null.chapters.txt” summary=”Eine weitere überlange Sendung erwartet Euch und protzt mit ausreichend Kurzweil. Wir reden über verschlüsselte iCloud Backups, iOS 6.1 und seinen Jailbreak, Abmahnung von Podcastern, clang und LLVM, komische OSX-Bugs, den iPhone Field Test Modus, Dell und Microsoft, den aktuellen und kommenden Mac Pro, Status-Anzeigen und Netzüberwachung, Ports-Systeme, Alternativen zu iTunes, Audio-Interfaces und Kopfhörer, Auphonic, Dokumentenscanner, Plaste-DSL-Router und ihre Fehler, Apps und die Sinnlosigkeit von Captive Portals. Ist also für jeden was dabei.”]

New controls allow users to expand and collapse all additional views in the player. This technique keeps the general player interface clean and easy to understand while the power users get what they want too. Parameters allow to set the default state for these views.

There is even more in this release apart from these most visible features and updates to the player engine should result in more robustness and browser compatibility overall. Check out the Changelog for the details.

Many thanks to Gerrit van Aaken and Simon Waldherr who were behind this release and also thanks to everybody who contributed with ideas and bug reports.

We are going to include the new player in the Podlove Publisher soon so if you are using that plugin, just wait for the next release and you will get the benefits of an already integrated player.

Screencast series about Podlove Publisher

We will create a series of screencasts explaining the design and operation of the Podlove Podcast Publisher. During the alpha phase, these will be in german, but there will be something in english once we enter the beta phase sometime later this year.

Here is episode one, explaining installation and setup of the plugin.

Here is the second screencast explaining posting of episodes and the use of the template system.

Podlove Web Player 1.2

Gerrit has just posted version 1.2 of the Podlove Web Player, our Mediaelement.js-based web player that is optimized for podcast episode playback. Right now, the player is still only available as a plugin for WordPress, but will be made independent from WordPress in the near future. You can download and install the plugin via the WordPress plugin directory.

The new release features some nice and important novelties. The player has improved compatibility with browsers and makes playback of individual chapters easier for users. It also comes with an optional extended player interface that features podcast title, sub-title and summaries and presents a cover image to the user. This will hopefully develop into an embeddable player in the future.

The player also has support to be automatically enabled for existing “enclosure” custom fields that is used by WordPress (and other podcast plugins). It also presents Opus audio files to browsers that support it. So if you want to beef up your old podcast with a brand new player this might be the easiest path so far.

The beta version of the Podlove Podcast Publisher is coming soon. When it is released, you will see full support for the new features of the Podlove Web Player, making podcasting with WordPress even easier.

Here is an example of the new look:

[podloveaudio title=”NEWZ035 This Is What Adults Do” subtitle=”Tim and  Mark report about Columbia, Hurricane Sandy, Vote Stealing in the US, Antarctica, Chile and Mark’s upcoming travel.” summary=”This week’s Newz has the added bonus of Tim reporting from Bogota, with an update about things he has seen and things going on in Colombia. Then its time for Hurricane Sandy aftermath stories courtesy of Mark’s family and friends in NJ. Vote stealing is explored and UN observers will be back in the US next week.  No agreement reached on protecting a chunk of the Antarctic, while a NYTimes piece tells the story of China’s largest professional exodus in a decade. The Arab Artists trip begins now, updates coming on the next edition of Newz of the World.” poster=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/newz/newz-icon-600×600.jpg”  mp3=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/newz/newz035-this-is-what-adults-do.mp3″ mp4=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/newz/newz035-this-is-what-adults-do.m4a” ogg=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/newz/newz035-this-is-what-adults-do.oga” opus=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/newz/newz035-this-is-what-adults-do.opus” chapters=”http://meta.metaebene.me/media/newz/newz035-this-is-what-adults-do.chapters.txt” permalink=”http://metaebene.me/newzoftheworld/newz035″ autop=”false”]

Updated Deep Link Specification

Following the final discussion on last weeks second Podlove Developer Meeting in Berlin, Germany, we have posted version 1.1 of the Podlove Deep Link specification that Podcasts can use to communicate to Podcast Clients that they are ready to accept direct addressing of time points and time ranges for immediate playback of certain areas in a given podcast media file using a web-based player.

We have changed the spec to adopt the syntax proposed in the new Media Fragments URI 1.0 (basic) draft as it perfectly fits our goals and we don’t want to invent the wheel twice. This puts this specification much more in line with upcoming web standards and should further the adoption by podcast clients.

The latest version of the Podlove Web Player supports this new addressing scheme and an upcoming version of the Podlove Publisher will add the proper link in all feeds.