Linux Switch: Podcast Feed Management

One of the pieces of producing my podcast that was bound up in OS X specific software was feed management. WordPress with the PodPress plugin does an OK job of producing a single feed. I never could come up with a simple way to use WordPress to produce multiple, dedicated feeds for each of the format specific feeds I maintain though. I would not be surprised if it is possible to find a way to do so but early on I found a proprietary, low-cost application on the Mac that made maintaining multiple feeds relatively easy. By relatively easy I mean that while the process I used was inherently manual, it was mostly of copying, pasting and make a few small edits.

A listener suggested I take a look at listgarden, an application built in Perl and OS agnostic. If I was starting my feed management today, with my first episode, it might be a good choice. However, with dozens of episodes archived in my feeds its lack of an import option rules it out for my use.

To be honest, there is no good reason for me to be using any tool, portable, proprietary or otherwise that requires any manual steps, as Feeder did and listgarden would. The slight changes I make when copying an episode from my main site feed to the dedicated feeds are exactly the same every single time. That sort of exact repetition is a strong signal that something can be automated with a little bit of code or scripting.

Last week, I finally got off my notional tuckus and wrote a little bit of Python to scrape the latest podcast episode out of my site feed, tweak it just so, and repeat for each of the audio formats that have their own dedicated feeds. The combination of the feedparser and BeautifulSoup libraries made incredibly short work of this task. The last handful of episodes in all three feeds (AAC/enhanced, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis) were updated using this script.

I only today ran into my first issue with this script and it wasn’t with the script itself, per se. Apparently, the Google Listen app for subscribing to podcasts in Android is very finicky about the type you specify for media files in your feed. If you don’t tag an Ogg Vorbis file correctly as audio, it won’t play the file back. Once spotted, this was a trivial fix and should be correct for all episodes going forward from here. (I’ll hand edit the two or three episodes in that one feed with less than ideal types, a one time additional fix.)

The script in question is highly specific to my podcast but if anyone is interested, I would be happy to clone my git repo to github so it can be read or forked and modified for use with other podcasts.

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