I am working on getting over my podcast malady.
For the past few years, two of our faculty that teach a semester-long class in digital storytelling have provided the same experience in compressed form for faculty as a 40 hour “Bringing Digital Storytelling to the Classroom LearnShop”. I started hovering in the August 2004 session and made a lot of appeals for getting permission to share the final stories on our web site, in both streaming QuickTime and Windows media formats.
Back when I got an iPod video, I quickly converted the movies to iPod movie format (using QuickTime Pro) but lagged behind in getting a podcast feed set up. Not a big deal, since it only gets updated about once a year, but it does provide an easy way to access the stories at will. The final story examples now also have a download link for the iPod movie version (*.m4v) of every story.
But now we have a working iTunes encrusted RSS feed:
I started by reading up on the “Apple – iTunes – Podcasts – Technical Specification”, but wanted to avoid the pitfalls and hijinks of manual XML editing. So I cranked up a little bit of PHP code to make a script that can create an iTunes tagged RSS feed from a template (well 2 templates). I enter the needed data for the feed items in an Excel spreadsheet, and the contents are then copy/pasted to a text data file, The main PHP script loads some variables that define the information used in the <channel> section.
A useful piece of my code is an often used piece of PHP code used to create a string of content form a template file- an associative array and name of the template file as passed to the function, and it returns the string with values inserted guided by placeholders marked with %%somevariable%%, so the value of my php array $stuff[‘somevariable’] is inserted in place of the marked tag.
Then the data file is read in as an array marked by newline characters separating records. Each line is a tab delimited set of data, which is then parsed into an array with all the information needed for one item. It spits out the content as a local file “podcast.xml”.
The code is now available at:
I tried to make it fairly general, but no guarantees, mileage will vary, etc. I’ve been using it successfully on 2 or 3 sites.
But enough tech stuff, sit back and enjoy the stories, there are some powerful stories to watch, in whatever format you choose.