This is a guest post written by Alberto Betella of the Podcast Generator project
PG provides the user with the tools to easily manage all of the aspects related to the publication of a podcast, from the upload of episodes to its submission to the iTunes store.
PG was originally developed for the academic environment, where teachers often lack the technical skills (or the time) to manage dealing with technicalities (e.g. creation and maintenance of an RSS feed) of publishing a podcast and prefer to focus on producing quality content for their students.
With this in mind, PG is conceived to be extremely simple to use and easy to customize, yet still powerful.
Publishing an episode using PG is as simple as uploading a file through the web browser, along with a title and a short description. PG automatically generates or updates a W3C-compliant RSS podcast feed. By doing so, it performs a preprocessing of the input to avoid the most common formatting errors (e.g. non-alphanumeric characters in filenames, html entities conversion, etc.), ensuring feed interoperability and compatibility with the widest range of RSS clients. The RSS feed includes the support for iTunes-specific tags such as long description of the episodes, keywords, content rating, iTunes category and cover art. The episodes can be optionally organized into thematic categories, each of which features its own separate feed.
In addition, PG produces a dynamic website that includes a list of the most recent podcasts, a podcast archive and an mp3 streaming player. In this way not only are podcast episodes available via RSS, but also through the website, thus gaining an increased discoverability and visibility in search engines. To do so, PG fully implements the sharing capabilities of some among the most popular social networks (Facebook, Google+ and Twitter) and adopts SEO techniques such as permalinks and open graph meta tags.
Through PG’s admin interface, the user can upload new episodes or edit existing ones, manage categories and customize all the details of the podcast feed, including – but not limited to – title, description, cover image, author and language. Furthermore, a number of extra features is offered to more advanced users. PG adopts a tailor-made theme engine that allows the customization of the graphical appearance with new skins or the integration with existing websites.
PG also provides the means to manually upload one or more episodes via (s)FTP and easily include them in the podcast feed from the admin area (called the “FTP Feature”). This allows for the upload of multiple files at once without the need to postprocess the episodes individually, since title, author and other details are extracted directly from the embedded ID3 tags. Moreover, the FTP feature comes in handy as a workaround to the server-side restrictions in size of files uploaded through a web browser, when the hosting provider does not grant the users with the possibility to override the default server settings and increase these limits.
PG has very little server requirements, as a matter of fact, it works in any web host with PHP support. The user’s data is stored in XML format, hence no MySQL DB is needed. PG can be installed in a less than a minute through a 3-step setup wizard. In most of the cases a manual installation is not even necessary, as PG is offered as a preinstalled package by some of the biggest hosting and NAS service providers worldwide (e.g. PG is part of the Softaculous bundle, available to millions of users through the control panel provided with their hosting plan).
PG adopts GNU gettext to handle localizations and is currently available in 13 languages. The translations are autonomously managed by a community of volunteers.
As a final remark, a well-known problem, common to many open source software projects (especially those maintained by small teams), is the lack of quality documentation and support. PG provides the users with a comprehensive documentation that covers a wide range of topics, from common issues and FAQs, to more technical aspects. In addition, PG offers enterprise-like free support through the SourceForge ticket system: over the past 8 years, users have regularly submitted support requests, totaling into the hundreds, most of which were replied to and solved within a few hours.
PG has gone far beyond 100k downloads on SourceForge and counts several thousand active users. The latest version can be downloaded from the official project page.