Thursday 20 November 2008 by Bradley M. Kuhn
I had yet to mention in my blog that I now co-host a podcast at SFLC. I found myself, as we launched the podcast last week, in a classic hacker situation of having one project demand the need to write code for a tangentially related project.
Specifically, we needed a way to easily publish show notes and otherwise make available the podcast on the website and in RSS feeds. Fortunately, we already had a few applications we'd written using Django. I looked briefly at django podcast, but the interface was a bit complicated, and I didn't like its (over)use of templates to do most of the RSS feeding.
The small blogging application we'd hacked up for this blog was so close to what we needed, that I simply decided to fork it and make it into a small podcast publisher. It worked out well, and I've now launched a Free Software project called podjango under the AGPLv3.
Most of the existing code will be quite obvious to any Django hacker. The only interesting thing to note is that I made some serious effort for the RSS feeds. First, I heavily fleshed out the minimal example for an iTunesFeed generator in the Django documentation. It's currently a bit specific to this podcast, but should be easily abstracted. I did a good amount of research on the needed fields for the iTunes RSS and Media RSS and what should be in them. (Those feedforall.com tutorials appear to be the best I could find on this.)
Second, I did about six hours of work to build what I called SFLC's ominbus RSS feed. The most effort went into building an RSS feed that includes disparate Django application components, but this thread on query set manipulation from django-users referenced from Michael Angela's blog was very helpful. I was glad, actually, that the ultimate solution centered around complicated features of Python. Being an old-school Perl hacker, I love when the solution is obvious once you learn a feature of the language that you didn't know before. (Is that the definition of programming language snobbery? ;)
It also turns out that Fabian Scherschel (aka fabsh) had started working on on a Django podcast application too, and he's going to merge in his efforts with podjango. I preemptively apologize publicly, BTW, that I didn't reach out to the django-podcast guys before starting a new project. However, I'm sure fabsh and I both would be happy to cooperate with them if they want to try to merge the codebases (although I don't want to use a non-Free software platform like Google Code to host any project I work on ;). Anyway, I really think RSS feeds should be implemented using generators in Python code rather than in templates, though, and I think the user interface should be abstracted away from as many details for the DTD fields as possible. Thus, it may turn out that we and django-podcast have incompatible design goals.
Anyway, I hope the code we've released is useful, and I'm glad for Fabian to take over as project lead. I need to move onto other projects, and hope that others will be interested in generalizing and improving the code under Fab's leadership. I'm happy to help it along.
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