TWiT Show Feed Anatomy

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This article is intended to explain the contents of TWiT's show feeds and how the podcast feed is put together. You can find a complete list of feeds in our TWiT Show Feeds article. This article uses This Week in Tech as an example, but the information is relevant to all shows.

Contents

Feed Location

All feeds can be found at feeds.twit.tv. Audio (MP3) feeds just have the show abbreviation as the name of the file followed by ".xml". (Although the .xml extension is optional when you load the file, we recommend using it to guarantee compatibility.) There are some exceptions to the show abbreviations, usually in older shows. For example, The Tech Guy's audio feed is named kfi.xml, TWiT Live Specials's audio feed is ces.xml (because it was started to cover CES), and The Social Hour is itn.xml (because it started as "Inside The Net" and then became Net@night.)

For the video feeds, they have _video_small, _video_large, and _video_hd between the show abbreviation and .xml extension. These are for the "Video-LO", "Video-HI", and "Video-HD" feeds.

Show Information

The first line in the XML file declares the file as an RSS file and references various XML namespaces used within the file.

<rss xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom" xmlns:media="http://search.yahoo.com/mrss/" xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd" xmlns:creativeCommons="http://backend.userland.com/creativeCommonsRssModule" xmlns:sy="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/syndication/" version="2.0">

Next, we open up the "channel" part which contains all the show content.

<channel>

The "title" tag contains the title of this feed. This example has the HD podcast feed for This Week in Tech.

<title>This Week in Tech (Video-HD)</title>

The "link" tag is where people should go to find more information on the show. If you have a link for the show, it should go to this URL.

<link>http://twit.tv/twit</link>

The following lines aren't likely to be anything you care about or need to reference. It's the name and version of TWiT's feed generation software, information on what RSS is, the language of the feed, and the copyright notice. (Maybe you'd want to reference this if you wanted to share our Creative Commons license info instead of just sticking up an incorrect "Copyright ©201X TWiT, LLC". iTunes does.)

<generator>TWiT Feed Generator v2.2</generator>
<docs>http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss</docs>
<language>en-US</language>
<copyright>
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
</copyright>
<creativeCommons:license>http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/</creativeCommons:license>

These lines are required by some podcast fetchers because they claim they want to know who to contact, so we've included them. Please, if you have an issue with the feeds, don't contact Leo directly. Contact the TWiT Engineering staff instead. (We're trying to establish a developer community, so we'd love to hear from you anyway!)

<managingEditor>leo@leoville.com (Leo Laporte)</managingEditor>
<webMaster>leo@leoville.com (Leo Laporte)</webMaster>

The first line is the TTL (Time To Live) which is how many minutes to wait between checking the feed again (which we're sure people just ignore). The other two lines here are to indicate how frequently the feed is usually updated. With "weekly" and "1", this means that the feed is updated once per week. Tech News Today would say something difference since it's a daily show.

<ttl>720</ttl>
<sy:updatePeriod>weekly</sy:updatePeriod>
<sy:updateFrequency>1</sy:updateFrequency>

These two lines will always have identical dates and times since we build the feed as shows are published...but this is the last time it was updated.

<lastBuildDate>Sun, 20 Oct 2013 20:24:24 -0700</lastBuildDate>
<pubDate>Sun, 20 Oct 2013 20:24:24 -0700</pubDate>

To be honest, we're not sure what feed readers (if any) use this generic "category" tag, but it's in here for legacy support reasons. If you're building a new feed-dependent thing, avoid using this tag.

<category>Tech News</category>

These tags are for the image. Podcast catchers love to use 144x144 art for some reason. It's tiny and ugly, so please don't load this art unless you really need 144x144 or smaller. As part of this image tag group, we've also included the title and link again...because that's recommended. However, we'd recommend using the title and link in the earlier "title" and "link" tags.

<image>
<title>This Week in Tech (Video-HD)</title>
<url>
http://feeds.twit.tv/podcasts/coverart/twit144videohd.jpg
</url>
<link>http://twit.tv/twit</link>
<width>144</width>
<height>144</height>
</image>

This is the location of the feed file. If you've grabbed the file, you obviously know this already. Note here that we do include the ".xml" extension on the end. You should be reading the feed from the same URL mentioned here. If you're getting it elsewhere, you may want to fix that.

<atom:link href="http://feeds.twit.tv/twit_video_hd.xml" type="application/rss+xml" rel="self"/>

This is the "author" of the feed. All ours say "TWiT'.

<itunes:author>TWiT</itunes:author>

The "subtitle" is a short version of the show description. Pull this in if you need something short.

<itunes:subtitle>
Your first podcast of the week is the last word in tech. Join Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and other tech luminaries in a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in digital tech. 2005 People's Choice Podcast Award winner.
</itunes:subtitle>

The "summary" and "description" are the long version of the show description. If you have more space, use this. You can use either since they're always identical.

<itunes:summary>
Your first podcast of the week is the last word in tech. Join Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and other tech luminaries in a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in digital technology. Winner of the 2005 People's Choice Podcast Award for best overall podcast and Best Technology Podcast. Released every Sunday by midnight Pacific.
</itunes:summary>
<description>
Your first podcast of the week is the last word in tech. Join Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and other tech luminaries in a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in digital technology. Winner of the 2005 People's Choice Podcast Award for best overall podcast and Best Technology Podcast. Released every Sunday by midnight Pacific.
</description>

These keywords are intended to help people find the podcast in a search.

<itunes:keywords>
TWiT, TechTV, Leo Laporte, Kevin Rose, Patrick Norton, John C. Dvorak
</itunes:keywords>

All current TWiT shows are not explicit, but in some podcasts you may see "yes" if there's adult language or "clean" if they want it tagged as a clean version.

<itunes:explicit>no</itunes:explicit>

This is similar to the "Managing Editor" and "Webmaster" fields above. If there are issues, don't contact Leo...despite what this tag may indicate.

<itunes:owner>
<itunes:name>Leo Laporte</itunes:name>
<itunes:email>leo@leoville.com</itunes:email>
</itunes:owner>

Do we want this show blocked? No. This is very unlikely to ever say "yes". If it does, we're pulling an entire show for some reason!

<itunes:block>no</itunes:block>

This is the artwork you should use for the show. This is a 1400x1400 copy of the show art...nice and huge!

<itunes:image href="http://feeds.twit.tv/podcasts/coverart/twit1400videohd.jpg"/>

iTunes lets you define up to two categories for a podcast. This Week in Tech is only in one, the "Tech News" subcategory under "Technology". Some shows (like Ham Nation) may be in two.

<itunes:category text="Technology">
<itunes:category text="Tech News"/>
</itunes:category>

Episode Information

After the above tags, there will be multiple "item" groups that each contain information on an individual episode. We'll look at one example episode here.

Right after the "item" tag (to mark the start of a new episode in the feed), you'll find the title of that episode.

<item>
<title>TWiT 428: Literally the Least I Could Do</title>

The publication date is when this episode was published.

<pubDate>Sun, 20 Oct 2013 18:50:37 -0700</pubDate>

This "comments" tag is a link to the episode's page on the TWiT site.

<comments>http://twit.tv/twit/428</comments>

These are the same as the tags in the Show Information as described above.

<itunes:author>TWiT</itunes:author>
<author>leo@leoville.com (Leo Laporte)</author>
<category>Tech News</category>

The description field contains the show notes as they appear on the TWiT site including the 144x144 cover art and HTML links.

<description>
<![CDATA[
<p><img src="http://feeds.twit.tv/podcasts/coverart/twit144videohd.jpg" align="right" hspace="20" vspace="20" border="0" title="This Week in Tech" alt="This Week in Tech"/></p><p><strong>Hosts</strong>: <a href="http://www.leoville.com">Leo Laporte</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/anildash">Anil Dash</a>, <a href="http://www.dvorak.org/blog/">John C. Dvorak</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/Scobleizer">Robert Scoble</a>, and <a href="https://plus.google.com/107006059340452534782">Dwight Silverman</a></p> <p>Apple speculation, two worlds of Windows, fashionable tech, Google grand, and more.</p> <p>Download or subscribe to this show at <a href="http://twit.tv/twit">twit.tv/twit</a>.</p> <p>For additional show notes, visit <a href="http://wiki.twit.tv/wiki/TWiT_428">the wiki page for this episode</a>.</p> <p>Bandwidth for This Week in Tech is provided by <a href="http://www.cachefly.com">Cachefly</a>.</p> <p><strong>Running time:</strong> 1:53:20</p>
]]>
</description>

This is the GUID. It IS NOT the link you should use for downloading the file. It is intended to be a unique identifier for the episode. If it changes, then the episode has changed and should be marked as a "new" episode so people can re-download it. If it hasn't changed, then people shouldn't be told there's a new episode (even if we change the description, title, or download link. For example, if there's a typo in the episode or the show description, we're not going to change the GUID and force people to re-download it. However, if there's a major problem with the downloadable file, we WILL change the GUID so that people can see the fixed version.

<guid isPermaLink="false">
http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp4/twit.cachefly.net/video/twit/twit0428/twit0428_h264m_1280x720_1872.mp4
</guid>

This is a brief episode description.

<itunes:subtitle>
Apple speculation, two worlds of Windows, fashionable tech, Google grand, and more.
</itunes:subtitle>

This is a non-HTML version of the episode description.

<itunes:summary>
Hosts: Leo Laporte, Anil Dash, John C. Dvorak, Robert Scoble, and Dwight Silverman Apple speculation, two worlds of Windows, fashionable tech, Google grand, and more. Download or subscribe to this show at twit.tv/twit. For additional show notes, visit the wiki page for this episode. Bandwidth for This Week in Tech is provided by Cachefly. Running time: 1:53:20
</itunes:summary>

Does the episode contain explicit language? Most TWiT shows say "no". Refer to Abby's Road for an example of a show that says "yes".

<itunes:explicit>no</itunes:explicit>

This is the episode length in hours, minutes, and seconds. (Shorter episodes may just have minutes and seconds.)

<itunes:duration>1:53:20</itunes:duration>

This is a link to download the file.

<link>
http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp4/twit.cachefly.net/video/twit/twit0428/twit0428_h264m_1280x720_1872.mp4
</link>

This is also a link to download the file.

<enclosure url="http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp4/twit.cachefly.net/video/twit/twit0428/twit0428_h264m_1280x720_1872.mp4" length="1813707548" type="video/mp4"/>

Want one more? This is yet another download link for the file. Why three? Different podcatchers like different methods. These last two contain the MIME type of the file and the file length in bytes.

<media:content url="http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp4/twit.cachefly.net/video/twit/twit0428/twit0428_h264m_1280x720_1872.mp4" fileSize="1813707548" type="video/mp4" medium="video">

These are categories for the episode (and show) on TiVo. We wouldn't recommend using them yourself since TiVo seems to be phasing them out.

<media:category scheme="tivogenres">News</media:category>
<media:category scheme="tivogenres">Computers</media:category>

These are credits for the episode. "actor" is for hosts and guests (that are in TWiT's internal hosts database), "producer" is the show producer", "director" is who ran the TriCaster and acted as technical director (TD), and "editor" is the person who edited the show after it was recorded.

<media:credit role="actor">Leo Laporte</media:credit>
<media:credit role="actor">John C. Dvorak</media:credit>
<media:credit role="producer">Chad (OMGchad) Johnson</media:credit>
<media:credit role="director">Chad (OMGchad) Johnson</media:credit>
<media:credit role="editor">Anthony Nielsen</media:credit>

This is a simple rating of either "adult" or "nonadult" for the episode.

<media:rating scheme="urn:simple">nonadult</media:rating>

This is the ICRA Rating for the episode.

<media:rating scheme="urn:icra">r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 vz 1 oz 1)</media:rating>

Closing the "media" tag and the "item" tag.

</media:content>
</item>

End of File

At the end of the file, it's closed out by these tags:

</channel>
</rss>
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