Keith Hirst

Keith Hirst

The Tech Insiders PodQuest: Devlog #1

The Tech Insiders PodQuest: Devlog #1

TLDR

I want to host my podcast myself. I don’t know how to do that, so I broke it down. Essentially a podcast is just an RSS feed that a podcast player reads and uses to request audio files from a server.

Introduction

I am currently in the process of making a Podcast and was thinking about hosting. The hosting solutions seem pretty reasonable for what they offer, but do I really know that? So I decided to write my own...

But... I don’t actually know how to host a podcast, so here I am figuring it out and I want to share this process with you.

What actually is a podcast

Whenever I come to a new side project, I get stuck. I just don’t know where to start. I search the internet for the answer and ultimately disagree with everything I read and give up. But not this time! This time I’m going to do what I would do in my day job as a Consultant and really simplify the problem.

Here is my definition for what a podcast actually is, in the simplest form:

A podcast is just an RSS file that points to some audio files on a server.

That is it. That is all I have to build. 2 things. An RSS feed and a server with some audio files on. Easy right! Well yeah, that’s kind of the point. The word just is also deliberate. I know my brain won’t rest till I have broken it down into pieces. Using the word just tricks my brain into accepting this reality long enough to actually get started.

Here is a diagram of that definition

What Is A Podcast

What is the riskiest part of this?

The next step is to think about what assumptions I am making.

  1. I assume that I can auto-generate an RSS file - because that would be the laziest solution, and I love lazy solutions.
  2. I assume that I can write one RSS feed for any Podcast player.
  3. I assume that I could simplify this by using the s3 public URLs. Adding a server would allow me to get a better idea of metrics though.
  4. I assume a Podcast Player would automatically pick up updates.

Ok, so now I know what assumptions I am making. It seems like the generation of the RSS feed is the riskiest area. I am making lots of assumptions there. I have also never done it before, so there is a skill gap.

I know how to create a server. I also know how to put files in an s3 bucket, so the left-hand side is relatively safe - even if my assumptions are wrong. Assumption 4 can't be validated until I have an RSS file.

Next Steps

I need to understand more about RSS. Honestly, I have always pretended to understand what my friends were talking about when they mention RSS feeds so it’s about time I did some research. That is my first step.

I also need to understand the difference between a blog and a podcast RSS feed. I will start with an RSS feed for my site (https://keithhirst.dev). I can then look at what a podcast needs.

I hope you enjoyed this insight into my planning process. By following this devlog, you may even find your own way of getting started with projects.

See you next time!