The Podcast RSS Buddy
Frequently Asked Questions.
What is an RSS feed?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a text file (with an XML extension) which resides on your server. Think of it as a normal web page, but written in a language understood only by podcast directories and podcast programs. This file contains general information about your podcast like the title, description, etc. It also contains information about the latest up-dates to your podcast. When you publish a new episode of your podcast, you must update you RSS feed to reflect this. Podcast programs and directories automatically check your RSS feed, and this is how they know that a new episode has been published. When a listener subscribes to you podcast, their program (i.e. iTunes) checks to see when you last up-dated your podcast, and downloads the newest episode.
Is an iTunes RSS feed different from Standard RSS feeds?
Yes. iTunes needs special iTunes tags in the RSS feed. These tags must be present in your feed for iTunes to recognize your information and for you to get listed in their directory.
Does the RSS Buddy FTP directly to my server?
No, not yet! Once you have put all the information into The Podcast RSS Buddy, it generates a XML file and saves it to your disk drive. You can then FTP it to your server using the same FTP program you use to transfer your podcast audio file. I am working on including FTP capabilities into the next upgrade which will be released soon.
How do I get my Podcast listed on the iTunes directory?
Once you have generated an iTunes compatible RSS feed and have uploaded it to your server, go into the iTunes Store and click on Podcasts. There will be a link to 'Publish Your Podcast'. Fill out the information, including the link to your RSS feed. If the feed is iTunes compatible (and if you use The Podcast RSS Buddy it will be!), then it will be considered for inclusion in the directory. There may be a delay it appearing in the list (it took me several days until my podcast, Your Web Minute, was listed).
I've checked my feed with a feed checker, and I have errors!
There are a couple of great feed checking sites which I highly recommend if you are looking for a feed validator:
http://feedvalidator.org (does not check iTunes tags)
http://www.nobodylikesonions.com/feedcheck/ (checks iTunes tags, but does not validate RSS feed as a whole).
I love these sites, however, both (and others might as well) flag errors in the feeds produced by the RSS Buddy, when the feed is in fact valid. Error messages such as:
-Undefined channel element: itunes:link (Feed Validator)
-Missing Channel Image/Width Tag (nobodylikesonions.com/feedcheck)
-Missing Item Content:Encoded Tag (nobodylikesonions.com/feedcheck).
My feed used to work great, now it's not valid?
Firstly, make sure you have not made a typo in the name or address of the feed. I know this sounds obvious, but I can't tell you how many hours I've spent trouble shooting a dead feed, only to find I made an error typing in the name... If that's not the problem:
RSS is finicky! I recently produced a new feed, and it suddenly didn't work. I labored over it for hours, only to find the problem as that I used the word "ASCII" in the description of a new episode. Finicky!
If your feed suddenly stops working, the best solution is to erase your podcast (press the 'Delete Podcast' button on the main window), re-enter your podcast's basic information, and start producing a fresh feed. I know this sound primitive, but it is actually a very good idea to rebuild your feed on a regular bases. Most importantly, it keeps your XML file size down which saves bandwidth (yours and your listeners). Re-entering your podcast's data only takes a minute or two, and it keeps things working smoothly.
What happened to my å,ä,ö's ???
The buddy has a feature that cleans out invisible characters people may inadvertently pick up when copying and pasting text from websites, etc. An unfortunately side effect is that it also cleans out characters like å,ä,ö.
You can turn off the text cleaning by going to the preference menu option, and click on 'turn off text cleaning'. You will then be able to use Swedish, French, Chinese (etc) characters with out any problems.
©2005 Chris Tolley