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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Both previously and presently, I have been employed by and/or done work for various organizations that also have views on Free, Libre, and Open Source Software. As should be blatantly obvious, this is my website, not theirs, so please do not assume views and opinions here belong to any such organization. Since I do co-own ebb.org with my wife, it may not be so obvious that these aren't her views and opinions, either.
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