Podcasting From IIS Server

Marvin writes, "I have an IIS website that streams audio (.asf files currently). With a �standard� IIS website hosting on Windows 2000, what would be the steps needed to begin podcasting. We would like to offer the audio we currently stream to the podcast market as well. We can convert the audio to any (even multiple) formats, but we don�t quite understand what needs to be set up on our web server to provide the support for podcasting.

Articles seem to cover in detail making the audio file. We have the audio file, but need to set up the rest of the support."

One of the primary (and often incorrect) assumptions most podcasting tutorials make is that you already have a blog or that you want a blog. With the content management solutions used in blogging come the primary tools required for creating the podcast feed listeners subscribe to. In most cases, this publishing is done automatically without user intervention. While this is perfect for the individual who never had a Website in the first place, it doesn't always fit with corporate (or non-profit) organizational Web hosting. The good news is, you do not need a blog or blog content management solutions to publish a podcast. Several software applications are designed to handle creating and updating the RSS feed which is the key element of podcast publishing. The key is using a solution that makes managing your feed painless.

It is possible to hand code RSS and manually update the file each time you upload a new audio file, but the opportunity for error makes using software a safer bet. The solution I prefer, FeedForAll, works well for both IIS and Apache hosted Websites. Below I walk through how to publish and update a podcast RSS feed using FeedForAll.

Before you proceed, make sure you know the location of the audio files for your podcast. Ideally these should be either MP3 or WMA files, although MP3 insures maximum compatibility at this point.

FeedForAll is available for both Windows and Mac users for $39.95. You can try it free for 30 days to make sure it's the best solution for your podcast publishing needs. For sheer ease-of-use, it's money well spent. A beta version with iTunes support is currently available.

Get FeedForAll for Windows

Get FeedForAll for Mac OS X

Stepping through the Feed Creation Wizard is one of the easiest ways to get a handle on publishing your podcast.

Step 1: Title your feed. This title should be something that makes it stand out, like the name of your organization or the specific topic of the audio. This title is what people will see in the application they use to subscribe to the podcast.

Step 2: Write a description for your podcast. This description shows up in podcast directories like to give potential listeners more information about what your podcast is all about. Think of this as the elevator speech for why someone should subscribe.

Step 3: Add the link to your site. The link should either be the main page of your site or if your podcast is associated with a particular sub-page on the site, a link to that subpage.

Step 4: Click Next past the intro to the items section. The first Item you create will be associated with the first audio file you make available in your podcast. Add a title for your first post. In general, this title should summarize what the post is about.

Step 5: Add a description for your podcast. This description should offer a few sentences about the audio file you plan to link so the listener gets some idea of what the topic(s) covered are.

Step 6: The link in your Item entry generally directs people back to somewhere on the Web to get more information about that particular post. If you don't have a specific page associated with the post, this can simply be a general link back to your Website.

After completing these basics for your first item, click the Finish button. You will be prompted to save the RSS feed, which is a smart idea to make sure you don't lose your work so far.

In the main FeedForAll interface, click the Items tab and select the item you just created.

Click the Optional tab to display the additional options for your entry. This is where you will associate the audio file for your podcast with the feed entry.

The Category selection is optional, although recommended to help classify your information. iTunes has a specific set of required categories, which I recommend for all podcast categorization for maximum compatibility. Since I'm using a church as an example for this feed, I'd use Religion & Spirituality as my top level category designation here. Leave Domain blank.

GUID is a unique identifier associated with this entry. In general, this is typically the same link that points to the online description of the entry that was included as the item link above. It could also be a unique number (like 00001, for instance). If you use a number instead of the link, uncheck the box next to Is Perma Link.

For original content, skip the source information. This is used only if you are quoting information from another site.

For a podcast, Enclosure is the most important section of the item. Here you add the URL for your audio file, the length of the file in bytes and the file type. The URL is the location of the file if someone were to access it directly from your server:

http://www.yourdomain.com/yourfile.mp3

The length of the file is the length in bytes. Typically Windows displays this length in KB, so multiply the number listed in Windows Explorer by 1024 to get the correct number for this (or multiply by 1048576 if you start with MB).

The last part of the enclosure is the file type. This varies depending on file type.

MP3: audio/mpeg
WMA: audio/wma
MP4: video/mp4
WMV: video/x-ms-wmv
MOV: video/quicktime

Author is an optional field and Comments is only used for a URL to a page that accepts comments about your podcast.

On the Feeds tab, the Optional tab for your feed offers some additional fields related to your feed. The language of the feed, global category for all information in the feed, Webmaster, editor, copyright and rating all provide useful details about your feed. Leave the default for Docs. TTL tells servers how often they need to check your feed for updates (in minutes).

With all these pieces in place your feed is technically ready for publishing. Save your feed. To publish the feed, upload the file you created to your Web server. FeedForAll offers a built in FTP client for uploading or you could easily use a standalone FTP app. From the Feed menu choose Upload and enter your FTP information.

The final piece of the puzzle is letting people know you have a podcast. This is as easy as putting a link on your site like: Subscribe to our podcast. where the link is the link to your podcast file. In the example I used here, that link is http://www.yourdomain.com/podcast.xml.

When it's time to add a new audio file to your podcast, simply open FeedForAll again. Select your podcast file. On the Items tab click the New Item button. Enter a title, link and description for your new podcast.

On the Optional tab, repeat the steps for entering additional details, making sure to enter the three fields related to the enclosure.

Save your feed and repeat the upload steps, overwriting the existing file on the server. This leaves the reference to the first item in the feed, appending your new item so that each subscriber has access to the previous file in addition to the new file. When subscribers check to see if you posted anything new, the new podcast will automatically download.