Software used to access and download podcasts is called a podcast client. They are also known as media aggregators, programs designed to automatically access an online file, or feed, and download the audio or video file associated with it. Hundreds of these programs exist, with names like IpodderX, Nimiq, Juice, and PodSpider.
These podcast clients are easy to find, and because there are so many available for free, it is easy to find one that suits an individuals needs and style. These programs run on the users computer, periodically downloading a small RSS file from sites that it has been told to monitor. The file tells the program about an audio or video file stored on the server, and the podcast client then downloads that file for the user to view or listen to.
The podcast client thus allows the user to view information on a wide range of topics from their computer, without even using a web browser. Just like blogs let people find writers they enjoyed for any niche topic they were interested in, podcasts let people do them same for audio and video. Its as if a thousands of radio and television channels were created to serve every possible interest, and more were made every day. Using the podcast client to access and download the files makes it as easy to keep up with the sites one likes as it is to publish the feed.
There are many podcast software programs and a lot of them are even free. Because of the decentralized, geek adopted nature of podcasting, a wide variety of programs are available, from large programs with a big footprint that do many different jobs to tiny little software packages that do the bare minimum. A package is available for podcast subscribers of almost any type, and more are being created everyday.
While some podcast software is designed for home user computers, most of them are designed to be used on the Internet. There are many packages created so that feed subscribers can view the podcasts they enjoy from within a web browser. These software packages contain both the feed reader like the home user software does, but usually also incorporate a way to view or listen to the podcasts online from inside the browser. Much of this software is used at the podcast directories that maintain listings of podcast feeds.
Feed creators is another type of online podcast software. PHP scripting is usually used to create the RSS file that tells the feed readers where to download the podcasts from. The scripting can either create a hard copy of the RSS file and write it to the server disk when the feed is updated, or it can make it virtually. When the RSS file is generated virtually, it does not actually exist on the host's server. Instead, the address of the PHP script is distributed as the address of the feed. When the script is accessed, it generates the file by looking at the recent posts at the site and sends the results to the feed subscriber.
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