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View Poll Results: Does Winamp need ease of use improvements for podcasting?
Winamp should support at least one one-click subscription mechanism. 20 80.00%
Winamp should support RDF/RSS/.pcast/OPML in its Play URL (ctrl+L) functionality. 15 60.00%
Winamp needs an "Options" button somewhere within SHOUTcast Wire itself. 8 32.00%
Winamp needs other significant podcast-related improvements. 13 52.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 25. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 14th December 2005, 07:15   #1
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Podcast ease-of-use improvements

I'd like to discuss Winamp's complicated and somewhat anemic podcast support. My access logs indicate that several hapless podcast listeners came upon my site after Googling for instructions to add podcasts to Winamp, indicating that it really isn't easy enough. The instructions I give aren't particularly complete, but it already takes five steps to subscribe and another eight to listen. This is probably a crime.

Winamp's support for podcast subscription is slightly on the technically-involved side. For one thing, there probably needs to be an "options" button on the SHOUTcast Wire > Subscriptions page that would automatically open the Preferences dialog to the General Preferences > SHOUTcast Wire page. (Actually, a couple of opens and closes of the Preferences dialog seems to cause it to forget its Update Every setting and revert to Never, but that needs to be reported as a bug and not a feature request.)

For another, unlike any other podcatcher I know of (except maybe the web-based ones), Winamp still requires the user to manually hit "Download Media" to download new shows. One of podcasting's greatest advantages is in that it's pre-recorded and not a live stream, so the user doesn't have to impatiently wait to rebuffer anything. For this to work as intended, though, the podcatcher has to download the show automatically while the user isn't paying attention. Otherwise, the user has to consciously wait, and then it's hardly even a subscription.

But my primary complaint is the lack of any sort of one-click mechanism that would get the user straight from the chicklet button on the web page to a subscription in Winamp. It's already difficult enough to find Winamp's podcast functionality given the fact that the word "podcast" doesn't appear anywhere until you've already highlighted SHOUTcast Wire in the Media Library. Not coming right out and calling it "podcast" is excusable—nobody wants Apple breathing down his neck—but some improvements are in order, and enabling a "Subscribe in Winamp" button on web pages would by itself would improve the situation drastically.

Here are some already extant one-click mechanisms:

Universal Subscription Mechanism (USM) (http://www.kbcafe.com/rss/usm.html): This open proposal allows podcasters to make their feeds subscribable by listing the feed URI directly in the feed, in an <atom:link /> element, and ensuring that the MIME type of the feed is correct. To support this, Winamp would need to be registered to open files of type application/rss+xml (and application/rdf+xml), and then attempt to find the <atom:link /> element. This might not be the best to set by default simply because RSS is a news format and not solely a podcast format, so users may want this file type to open in a newsreader instead.

pcast: URI scheme: This is how iTunes on Mac supports one-click subscription. URIs of the pseudo-scheme pcast: are automatically opened, text-substituted to change the scheme to http: (s/^pcast:/http:/), and subscribed. This is a little bit broken, since it inherently requires a feed to be available over HTTP. Since this is the case most of the time, though, it is an option. (At least one program also supports the pseudo-scheme podcast: in exactly the same way.)

feed: URI scheme: Another pseudo-scheme, feed:, is used more appropriately; "feed://" is prepended to the feed URI (e.g., feed://http://feeds.feedburner.com/accidenthash). Same caveat as USM; this applies to all RSS feeds and not just podcasts.

.pcast file: This is how iTunes on Windows supports one-click subscription (why it doesn't do the same on Mac OS X is a mystery); it's also used by Yahoo! Music Engine. This is a special XML format that briefly describes a podcast. Since it specifically describes a podcast and not a news feed, it's a possible candidate for being a default. Example:


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE pcast PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PCAST 1.0//EN" "http://www.itunes.com/DTDs/pcast-1.0.dtd">

<!-- generator="wordpress/1.5.2" -->
<pcast version="1.0">
<link rel="feed" type="application/rss+xml" href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/accidenthash" />
<title>Accident Hash</title>
<subtitle>Boston based PodShow music podcast.
<!-- ... --> Hosted by C.C. Chapman.</subtitle>

None of these mechanisms should be difficult to implement, and I would imagine the main difficulty would be to select which to make default. Of course, there's also the possibility of registering some other pseudo-scheme, like winamp:, or maybe another file type. But the above (too numerous!) features are already in wide use (feedburner.com already supports pcast: and feed: URIs and the .pcast file type as well as the <atom:link /> tag) and adding to them would only increase confusion.

Here's some subscription-related stuff I'd like to see Winamp do as well:

Be able to import and export OPML files: OPML is one file type capable of representing a hierarchical list of, among other things, podcast feeds.

Know what to do when it is asked to play a URI that leads to an RDF/RSS/pcast/OPML file: This seems like a no-brainer to me. If I hit ctrl+L on Winamp and type in the location of a podcast feed, Winamp currently chokes on it with "error syncing to mpeg". It should be smart enough to figure out that it isn't an MPEG stream, figure out what it is, and subscribe to it if at all possible. This would have an interesting ripple effect: Podcasters could create a "subscribe in Winamp" link consisting of a M3U or PLS playlist containing the feed URI, which would (at least in my case) open up in Winamp and do what it was intended to do.

This is entirely a plea for improvement of ease of use; I'm convinced that anything we can do to make subscribing easier will result in a corresponding increase in listeners/viewers. I realize that this stuff might be implementable in some sort of plugin, but if I have to direct my listeners to go to the trouble of installing some nebulous third-party add-on to Winamp, I might as well just be giving them instructions to install and use Juice (http://juicereceiver.sf.net/), which already does most of this anyway, or even just direct them to install iTunes, which is a fairly good example of how much of a no-brainer podcast subscription should be. In other words, telling my less tech-savvy prospective listeners to install a plugin is too involved to consider it a one-click solution.


Last edited by drokulix; 14th December 2005 at 07:48.
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Old 14th December 2005, 09:51   #2
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Nice overview of things to take account of. I've already expressed my views on the podcast support in winamp to those involved, and I know that its on the cards of things that need further development, probably to the point of a much larger UI revision.

Thanks for combining a few things into one thread, should make things much quicker to review.

I'm tempted to remove the poll because well, podcast support is a known interim solution at the moment, so the issue is somewhat known.

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Old 14th December 2005, 10:55   #3
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Word, that's fine. About ten or so searches on what I thought would be relevant terms didn't turn up anything, so I figured I'd give posting here a shot. Thanks.
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Old 3rd January 2006, 08:49   #4
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Automatic downloads, podcast link handling (via MIME types, feed:// and USM) and OPML parsing were all "mostly working" prior to the 5.1 release, but were removed due to instability and lack of time. They will be completed in an upcoming release, but there are a lot of other items on the schedule, also. Keep in mind that there have only been 2 developers for the past year (and a third just coming up to speed)
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Old 3rd January 2006, 20:07   #5
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there should be an obvious way to export as well as import to OPML possibly imo...maybe a single button that could do both with a single click depending on the contents of the subscriptions pane in the shoutcast wire section in the ML.

and Winamp already does support one click subscriptions doesn't it? in the shoutcast wire section in the ML, go to "Discover" and when you click a subscribe button it shows up in subscriptions right on the spot, Isn't that considered a one click subscription?
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Old 17th January 2006, 00:19   #6
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Originally posted by STanger
in the shoutcast wire section in the ML, go to "Discover" and when you click a subscribe button it shows up in subscriptions right on the spot, Isn't that considered a one click subscription?
It would be if it worked with anything other than the Media Library browser. Last I checked, Firefox was a little higher than Winamp on the list of browsers of choice.
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Old 18th January 2006, 00:14   #7
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Originally posted by drokulix
It would be if it worked with anything other than the Media Library browser. Last I checked, Firefox was a little higher than Winamp on the list of browsers of choice.
meh, I obviously missed something but I was meaning to ask about using the ML as a podcatcher.
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Old 12th February 2006, 22:26   #8
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I would just like to say that I find Winamp the easiest podcast platform to use and I am not in the slightest technical. As long as podcast sites make their RSS/XML feeds easily available, adding them to Winamp is a cinch, just press Add and paste it in. I also like the fact that Winamp seems to be the only platform which will stream podcasts, without automatically downloading. And I have never had any problems with buffering, unlike with radio streams. Most conventional broadcasters in Europe now offer podcasts, and amongst other things it is now simply the most convenient way to listen to radio. I have about 50 podcasts on my list and I certainly don't want them all downloaded every time. At least 2 other platforms have tried to download 300 back issues of one particular podcast without being asked. When I want automatic downloads I simply use another platform (Wizz RSS extention for Firefox - simple and excellent, but it won't stream!)

All I would ask is that the podcast titles could be edited, as in Bookmarks, so that they can be more logically managed. What would be ideal would be the ability to have podcast playlists.

And the same would go for radio and MP3 URLs in playlists - a title editing feature (again like in Bookmarks)
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Old 27th May 2006, 21:39   #9
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True, you'd want to download some podcasts, but not necessarily all. My way of using podcasts is simple:
1. listening on the computer --> streaming, I'm online anyway
2. putting podcasts on my mp3 player --> have to download.

If this is anything to go by, automatic downloads should be disabled, but happen automagically in the background when I drag (or send) a podcast to my mp3 player. With options of tweaking individual channels, of course (I'd want my weekly favourite show automatically downloaded, but not the one that has 20 daily entries).
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Old 1st October 2006, 20:56   #10
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From what I can tell, Shoutcast Preferences don't allow you to download to individual folders for each subscription. This is one of the nice things about Juice. Gives you more options, so when you're in Windows Explorer, you can easily look at, manage, launch, whatever, your podcasts.

Another nice thing would be that you can see the metadata and episode title from within Audio in Winamp. From what I see, you can only see -- and search for -- a podcast by what's in the filename (while in Audio). If the episode's info (i.e., Bush at War), is not in the filename, you won't find it. This limits Winamp's Audio's search functions ability to manage podcasts. You are forced to go to ShoutcastWire to look at it. Then you have to note the filename (often just a date) and then go back and look for that in Audio.

I wish Winamp would do this, so I could just manage all my audio content in one place.
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Old 15th October 2007, 18:51   #11
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OPML Import

Has anything happened with OPML import on WinAmp?
I'm looking at the subscriptions folder for podcasts and all I see is ADD subscription.

Also it would be nice to have the ability to manage episode expiration similar to Juice Receiver podcast software.
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Old 28th May 2008, 11:41   #12
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i think it also would benefit from a time stretch reencode for podcasts that would be neat
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Old 10th January 2010, 15:36   #13
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Now, when clicking on an rss link with Firefox, it offer the choice : "Subscribe to this podcast using" then you can choose an application. I gave it a try with "winamp.exe" but it just tried to play the feed.

Wouldn't this be an easy way to add podcast subscription with 1-click with Firefox?

Why can't winamp detect the xml file format and ask what we want to do with it (download last, subscribe ...).
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