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Podcasting Secrets - LifeType

a blogging platform for podcasters...
Thursday 31 August 2006.

If you want to attach a podcast to a regular blog, it makes sense to choose a blogging package with podcasting features ‘built in’ – such as, for example, LifeType. Here Oscar Renalias, lead developer of LifeType, gives bitwise an inside view on what makes a great podcasting platform…

bitwise: Can you explain how LifeType supports podcasting? If I were to use LifeType to create a blog, how would I add sound files and make sure they were syndicated?

Oscar Renalias: Podcasting is supported in LifeType via its ’resource centre’ feature. All users need to do in order to publish podcasts via LifeType is upload the sound file with the podcasts to the blog’s media archive, write a new post and then get the blog to include a link to the sound file via one of the icons in the toolbar of our editor, in the same way a picture would be added to an article.

Once the article is published, LifeType will detect that there is a podcast linked to this article and will add the correct enclosure tags to the RSS 2.0 feed of the blog.

bitwise: I hear a lot about the importance of supporting ’enclosures’ in RSS feeds. In simple terms, what are enclosures and why don’t all Blog and CMS packages support them?

Oscar Renalias: Enclosures in RSS 2.0 are similar to the idea of attachments in email messages. Although enclosures are not part of the actual feed, they’re just linked (as opposed to email attachments, where the attachment is sent embedded in the message) From a content point of view, enclosures usually provide additional information with regards to the post they’re linked from or in the case of podcasts, they may even contain more information than the article itself!

I cannot comment on why other software packages have not embraced the idea of enclosures yet, but probably one of the most important reasons is that some sorts of file management features are needed. Users must have a way to upload their own files before they can be linked from RSS feeds.

bitwise: Many people just create their podcasts by subscribing to a service such as Feedburner. Is there any advantage to having the kind of built-in support provided by LifeType?

Oscar Renalias: The main advantage of Feedburner is obviously bandwidth, since visitors do not subscribe to your own feed but to Feedburner’s. Although LifeType implements support for conditional HTTP headers for improved HTTP caching, there are still many broken clients/aggregators out there that will request the feed every time so having another site putting up with the bandwidth requirements instead of your own, is always a good thing.

Feedburner also supports statistics and visitor tracking via feeds in their paid version, and this is something that is not currently available in LifeType.

bitwise: Have you made any podcasts yourself? If so, have you any tips? If not, why not?

Oscar Renalias: I have not tried to create any podcasts yet, because I haven’t got much time and especially because I don’t like how my voice sounds when recorded :-)

bitwise: Do you listen to other people’s podcasts? If so, have you any favourites? Can you give me an example of a good podcast running in LifeType?

Oscar Renalias: I am only subscribed to a few music-related podcasts at the moment, because some of these podcasts come and go very often especially if they’re not successful, so you get podcasts that last for 2 or 3 weeks and then you have to find something new... But right now, I am subscribed to these:

- Beyond Jazz
- BendingCorners jazz-n-groove
- The Detroit Sessions with Brian Kage

Regarding podcasting sites using LifeType, I am currently not subscribed to any but we know of CALI Classcaster which is using LifeType and its podcasting features to provide podcasts of lessons to the CALI member schools.

bitwise: Over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of Blogs and now of podcasts. What is the next big thing?

Oscar Renalias: It’s very hard to say because things come and go very fast in the internet nowadays and today’s hottest trend may already be outdated next week.

But right now the buzzwords are "Web 2.0" and "social sites" such as YouTube, MySpace, Flickr and Digg, so I can foresee a trend in CMS packages to further develop the concept of letting visitors model the content, sort of harnessing the power of a site’s readership to determine what’s worthwhile and what’s not.

Oscar Renalias is lead developer and founding developer of LifeType (http://www.lifetype.net/), a free, open source, multi-user and multi-blogging platform. The LifeType project started in February 2003 and was originally named pLog.
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