How To Use The Spellbinder To Create An ATOM Feed

Why Use The Spellbinder?

Documentation on the proper XML formatting of the poorly defined ATOM & RSS formats is sparse, and hard to figure out. Yet many programs have already been written to consume these feed formats. Feed syndication is such a valuable way to distribute & recieve content, that it is still worthwhile to use these formats. The Spellbinder aims to simply the accurate creation of feeds with some of the most common & desirable features (such as GeoTags and lots of enclousures). Plus the ATOM format is the current standard, replacing RSS, but few people know how to generate it. The Spellbinder makes generating both new ATOM feeds and old RSS feeds much simpler.

The Spellbinder

Make A Feed

You could have an audio only radio-style show, or a TV-style video show, or you could make a "magazine" in .pdf format. You could have a "Daily Haikucast" that sends a simple poem in .txt format. I'd like to make a podcast of coloring book pages, 1 per day, in .png format. You could send any filetype as a podcast enclousure! You might send 3D CAD files so your audience could 3D-print the objects you design. You could podcast .exe files if you were writing simple utilities for other computer programmers, or PC games, although users' anti-virus programs & firewalls might block them, depending on their settings.

Date-first Filenames

Whatever filetype you choose, you should always start the filename with the full numeric date:"2013-11-28 Coloring Book Podcast 00001.pdf" or "2013-11-28 Guitar News.ogg". This will help ensure that when your audience tries to [listen to/run/use] your podcast along with all the other podcasts they subscribe to, their audio & video players & filesystems will automatically play/show the episodes in chronological order, the way nearly EVERYONE wants them.

This date-first filenaming convention is excellent when everyone does it, as human brains love to recall what they heard/read in forward-only chronological order.

While you might not normally store your own personal computer files on your own machine with dates in the filename, as a content producer who is one of many content producers, the filenames of files you distribute should be date-first as this is how every audience wants to consume periodical content. And you are a professional now, right?

No Mulitple Enclousures

The RSS standard was the first format invented, but it was badly defined. It is ambiguous about whether or not it is ok to have more than one enclosure in your podcast <item> element. So many syndication feed reading programs cannot recieve any enclosures beyond the first one.

Imagine you have a "paint-by-numbers" podcast. You have a video file of yourself painting some art. You have a .png image of the art that your audience can print out & paint along with you. You sent the art to a friend, so you also have an .mp3 of a "thank you" telephone call. In your mind, all 3 of these files constitute 1 "episode" of your podcast.

But RSS only allows 1 enclousure per <item>. How do you get all the files to your audience?

You create an <item> element for every file you want to send, with a different file in each <enclosure> element, repeating all the other episode details but generating a unique GUID identifier for each <item>.



That's how this tool works. Since multiple enclosures are not supported by the standards, The Spellbinder generates a separate <item> with just 1 enclosure in XML for very file in your new episode folder. These <item> elements all have the same episode details, but each has a separate GUID and a different file enclosed. This guarantees all feed readers can get all the files from an episode.

Since we must generate many RSS <item> elements to make sure multiple enclosures get delivered, this tool does the same for ATOM <entry> elements too.

You should always choose ATOM format unless for some legacy reason you MUST use RSS. RSS is deprecated.

Fill In Show Details

The first time you run The Spellbinder (click the "Make Atom Feed" button), it will create a syndication feed file for you, feed.atom (or maybe feed.rss, if you absolutely need the bad, older .rss format use the other button).

The feed.atom file is created at the same place in your filetree as your "new episode" folder, not inside of it.

You should put that feed.atom file on your webserver so that your audience's podcatchers can read it. Upload the media files of your new episode too.

You probably should not change the filename of "feed.atom", ever. All of the podcast discovery web-crawlers will be looking for a single file of this name in your website's foldertree. They'll help you build an audience. If you ever changed this filename, none of your existing audience's podcatchers would have a way to detect where the show went (you'd lose your entire audience, instantly, if you change the filename "feed.atom" after you post it).

The Spellbinder Isn't Magic (Yet)

The Spellbinder isn't smart enough yet to simply read your existing feed.atom file & add your new episode's files to it. For now, you should combine your new elements to the existing feed by hand.

If enough demand is there, I'll upgrade The Spellbinder so that it reads your existing feed, so you can just overwrite the old feed.atom file with the new one. Maybe we could have a feature that exports the element of the really old episodes to an archive file, so that only the latest X episodes are presented in your main feed.

If you want it bad, e-Mail

Edit Existing Feed Manually

Re-run this tool once for every time you make a new episode of your podcast.

Change the details for the new episode, then click the "Make Atom Feed" button.

You'd then use a text editor to manually cut & paste the brand new properly formatted XML entries from the local feed.atom file into the existing feed.atom file on your webserver.

Make 1 New Folder Full Of Only New Episode's Files

Since there's no better way to auto-detect which files are in your brand new unpublished episode, put them into a separate folder with nothing else in it. Put the path to that "the-brand-new-episode's-files-only" folder into the "Brand-New-Episode-Only Folder Path" textbox. This tool will create one new XML entry/item for each file found in that folder. The Spellbinder will apply the same settings from the "Episode" textboxes to every one of those new files, since they all are part of the same "episode".

Cut & paste the new XML <entry> elements into the existing feed.atom file on your server (or <item> elements with feed.rss files).

Questions? Bugs? Feature Requests?