Thursday, May 29, 2008

Putting the audio files online

Much of the day has been spent finalising the web pages for the podcasts. The general layout of the podcast introduction page and the page containing additional information and opportunities for accessing each item had been prepared some time ago but needed to be finalised and tested and recent audio files added.

The audio files can be played, using the media player on the page, or by clicking the Download Name of Podcast link. Right clicking on the link allows the user to save the file to a computer or portable digital player.

A page providing information about how to listen to and / or download the audio files is provided to help users who have not previously used audio files online.

The other page that had to be created was the xml page containing the RSS feed information. Podcasts can be accessed automatically when someone subscribes using the URL of the xml page and inserting it in RSS reader such as Bloglines or a podcasting program.

Getting the xml correct was a challenge as there are definite rules to follow. When the page is saved and then opened any errors are noted and the text on the page will not be displayed. Particular care has to be made that there is no white space - empty lines - in the code and that characters, such as ampersands, need to be coded - eg. instead of the symol (&), the symbol (&) followed by the combination letters (amp) and a (;) is used (no brackets of course in the actual code).

The coding chosen to be used for the RSS is the coding used by iTunes - details as to what is required can be found on the iTunes Specifications page. For the podcasts to be included in the iTunes store an account needs to be established and then a form completed to submit the podcasts.

After completing the pages I then tested the RSS using Bloglines and the Live Bookmarks feature in the Firefox browser. The RSS feed worked with the four items at present online appearing in the list of both sources. After much trial and error it was a good feeling to see it actually functioning properly.

Now that all the pages are set up any additions should be straight forward.

When the next audio file is added online, the section of coding for individual items will be copied and added to the existing code and then the information altered for the new item.

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