February 11th, 2013
I used to use the Blubrry PowerPress plugin for WordPress to turn a WordPress post, plus an audio file, into an episode of my podcast. When I started using it I was really pleased with it because it was a big step up from Dircaster, which I’d been using prior to that. However, it never really quite did the business as far as I was concerned. True it handled some of the manual steps for me, but it always felt a bit clunky, and early versions had been buggy. But my main issue with it was that it used a Flash audio player, which meant that Apple users visiting this website couldn’t play the audio. Selfishly (or, more accurately: lazily) I put up with this while it didn’t affect me directly, but when I got myself an iPhone I had to admit it was time to fix the issue. So I disabled the PowerPress plugin and went through each of 36 podcast posts manually adding an HTML5 audio player to play the MP3 file. If you go to my podcast archive and have a look at anything prior to Podcast 37 you’ll see the HTML5 player I added by a bit of HTML hackery. It worked but it wasn’t the most fun couple of hours I’ve ever spent. I needed a better solution.
The solution I stumbled upon was another WordPress plugin called the Podlove Podcast Publisher. This fully featured plugin is part of a larger venture aimed at improving the overall technical infrastructure for podcasting. It features the Podlove Web Player, an HTML5 audio and video player built with podcasters in mind.
According to Tim Pritlove, the force behind this initiative, Podlove is "still in early development". However, it didn’t feel like that to me. I was able to install and configure the plugin and successfully publish a podcast without any problems. The only thing that held me back slightly was the lack of English documentation. There are a couple of very discursive videos in German which I used to figure out how to configure things. I hasten to add that I don’t speak a word of German. I’m sure there’s an awful lot of information in those videos that completely passed me by, but you can make out enough from just watching the videos to figure out what you need to do. I’m tempted to record my own video and stick it up on YouTube because the setup really isn’t difficult and a short video would be enough. There’s definitely functionality in there that I’m not using – but if you just want to upload audio, write a post for it, and publish it with minimal effort then the basic setup does what you need. You can see the results in my recent podcasts.
I particularly like having a good-looking HTML5 audio player that just works without any dicking around. Note: this (below) is just a screenshot so don’t try clicking it. See Podcast 37 for the real thing.
Once you install the plugin, a new section is added to the menu panel of your WordPress admin page:
This provides links to a series of pages for listing previous podcasts, configuring your podcast settings, configuring multiple RSS or Atom feeds for your podcast, setting up templates for standard text and images you always (or often) use in podcast posts, and so on.
The other new entry in the menu panel is "Episodes". This is the place you go to add and edit new podcast posts. The Podlove plugin creates a new custom post type for podcast posts, which causes these to be separated out into this Episodes section and means your podcast posts aren’t listed when you select All Posts in the Posts section:
Clicking Add New creates a new draft podcast post, which you can then edit. The screenshot below shows a new, empty podcast post containing a template placeholder which is added there automatically. I have this configured so that, when the post is published, this placeholder gets replaced by the music credit, email form, iTunes button, and so on that I have at the bottom of every podcast post.
I was really impressed by this plugin and, if you’re looking for a better way to publish podcasts, I can thoroughly recommend it. Don’t be put off by the lack of English documentation. Try watching the German videos with the sound down – you’ll get the gist. Drop me an email if you get stuck (