From the blog

New year, new Podiant

by Mark Steadman, on 1st January 2018

Happy new year, and here’s to the next 365 days of podcasting with Podiant!

I wanted to let you know about some important changes - some technical, some front-facing - that you should know about.

Some of you may have got an email earlier in the day alerting you to an outage. This is because we’ve just moved to a new infrastructure, increasing security and extricating resources from Bloomsbury Digital. Which leads me to a very important point for us:

Podiant is now a Limited company!

Previously, Podiant was a product owned and operated by my company, Bloomsbury Digital Limited (a UK Limited company). I’m now thrilled that Podiant Limited is its own legal entity. This will be important for me as we push into the next few months, as it solidifies my commitment to providing great tools to podcasters like you. But let’s get onto some more interesting things, shall we?

Networks are coming!

Previously Podiant had a “Collections” feature, which grouped podcasts together and showed them on a lacklustre page. In 2018, we’ll be leaning hard into providing network features for podcasters, including a unified dashboard that shows analytics across all your network’s shows. Your network will also have a beautiful website, which you can point your own domain name to, and all your shows will use that domain name.

And just like with podcasts, you can run multiple networks under one account, and add other administrators to help you run them.

Pricing for networks breaks down like this:

  • $59.99 per month for up to 5 shows (saving $4.96 per month)
  • $116.99 per month for up to 10 shows (saving over $12 per month)
  • $233.99 per month for up to 20 shows (saving nearly $26 per month)

If you add an existing show to a network, you’ll stop being billed for that show, as the price is rolled into your network subscription. I’ll have more details for you in the coming weeks, once the beta testing period is up and running. And you’ll doubtless hear more about it on the Platform podcast I record with our Community Advocate, Brendan.

Customisable themes are coming!

If you’re particularly eagle-eyed, you might have noticed some subtle changes to your podcast’s website. This is because the theming system has been completely rewritten from the ground up, making it completely customisable.

If you’re familiar with editing Tumblr themes, you’ll have an idea of how this works. Soon we’ll be making a theme editor available to users, so you can change the HTML and CSS (the structure and presentational code that makes your website display in browsers) of your site, making it entirely your own. We have a guide on how to work with the theming system, but it’s initially aimed at more technical readers.

All podcast sites are now using the new theming engine, so if you encounter anything strange, do let us know by hitting the little support widget at the bottom-right of this page.

Markdown all the things

We’ve now migrated to Markdown for show notes, transcripts, blog posts, pages and the podcast description. Markdown is a way of writing rich content quickly, without the need of a WYSIWYG editor. It’s safer and cleaner than the HTML we provided before, and you can use the Markdown editor and previewer in your Podiant dashboard, or a third-party app (like Bear for macOS and iOS, or Typora for Windows).

Your feeds will still show rich show notes, as we convert your Markdown into HTML on-the-fly. We’ve migrated your show notes and transcripts to Markdown already, so you can get a feel for how it works.

Sometimes, stray characters can make their way into Markdown text when converted from HTML, so if you need any help clearing these up, let us know. And you can refer to the Markdown cheat sheet for a comprehensive overview of the syntax. It’s actually really simple once you start using it, and more importantly, it produces safer, cleaner show notes.

Other improvements

If you edit in Adobe Audition and export your audio with markers, we’ll now import them as chapters.

When planning episodes, you can now create evergreen topics, making it easier to create recurring segments.

Guests choosing to book a time to record can now see when other guests have selected times. We’ve also improved the interface for this, making it easier to work with.

We’ve improved right-to-left text support, added new string translations - including the “Subscribe via” text - and squashed some bugs.

Things that have disappeared

As we make way for networks, the Collections interface - which was very seldom used - has been removed.

We’ve got rid of the Resources and Support section from the dashboard, as there are better ways of handling these features and services than making them part of the Podiant codebase. If you want to talk to other podcasters using the platform, you can head to http://forum.podiant.co. Patreon supporters and Professional users are also welcome to join our Slack workspace, so keep an eye out for an invite. We’re also on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. And of course if you have support questions, use the big red button at the bottom-right of the page.

We’ve also dropped the toolbar you see as a podcast admin, when viewing your podcast’s webpage. In the future, I’ll be looking at ways to bring something similar back, but for now remember you can just add “/admin“ to the end of your podcast’s web address to get to the dashboard.

Lots of other changes under the hood

(OK, I’m British, so we don’t call them hoods, but if I said “under the bonnet” you wouldn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Anyway…)

The code behind Podiant has had a number of significant rewrites, moving it from Python version 2.7 to Python 3. As support for Python 2.x is slowly phased out over a number of years, migrating to Python 3 keeps us at the cutting edge and means we more quickly receive security fixes to the software that runs our stack.

We’ve also changed our server architecture, moving our databases to new cloud storage and changing how we deploy code, which will make the service more robust and scalable as time goes on. So if we hit a high period of demand, we can scale up in a matter of minutes.

Bear with us

That’s quite a significant update! Between changes to the codebase, the infrastructure and the location of media files - don’t worry, this doesn’t impact your listeners or mess up your feed -we don’t expect everything to run entirely bug-free for the first few days, so please bear with us and be nice to us in the support window 😉

Kidding aside, it’s really important that we get this right, so I want to let you know that I’ll move as quickly as possible to fix any technical issues, especially those that impact your listeners.

As you can see, there’s a lot happening and we’re making big plans for the future. 2017 was an interesting time for Podiant, and I’m humbled and thrilled that so many of you are on board. It’s a real privilege to serve.

If you’re heading back to work this week, good luck and godspeed. And as always, happy podcasting!