The recent crash of my laptop hard drive has provided an excellent opportunity to tryout the free software program PodNova. PodNova is both a free web 2.0 service and a free client application that works with iTunes and several other podcatching software programs. As a web 2.0 service, it provides a method for not only subscribing to podcasts but also sharing those subscriptions via a RSS feed and an OPML file via a web-based interface.

My reasons for using PodNova include:

  1. I want a way to manage my podcast subscriptions in just one place, and have multiple computers (both my laptop and my desktop) subscribe to the same podcasts. (I currently do this manually. Sort of…. not very thoroughly, since this is time consuming.)
  2. I want a way to share a dynamic list of the podcast feeds to which I am currently subscribed and listening.
  3. I want a way to restore my podcast subscriptions to my local iTunes software installation in the event my hard drive crashes or I switch the computer I am using with my iPod.

All of the above needs are addressed well by PodNova. (PodNova is a free and cross-platform, btw.) I currently am subscribed to 35 different podcast feeds. Through my free PodNova account, anyone can view (as an RSS feed) the newest episode for each podcast to which I am subscribed or download an OPML file including all of my podcast subscriptions. The first link above is essentially a dynamic “feed river” of the latest podcast episodes to which I am subscribed. If you are not familiar with OPML, according to WikiPedia:

OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines. Originally developed by Radio UserLand as a native file format for an outliner application, it has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators.

If you use the free Bloglines RSS aggregator, as I do, it can export and import OPML files also. You can download the OPML file for the 218 blogs currently in my Bloglines account (no I don’t regularly read ALL of these!) and import them into your own Bloglines account (or other OPML compliant aggregator) if desired.

The link above for my podcast subscription OPML file will download as a file with a .xml extension. In order to import it into the PodNova client application, you will need to change the extension of the downloaded file to .opml. If you want to use PodNova with iTunes, you will no longer use the “subscribe with iTunes” links in the iTunes music store or on websites. Instead, you’ll want to either search for the podcast to which you want to subscribe in the PodNova web-based directory, or copy and paste the subscription feed (RSS or XML link) into PodNova: either the web-based interface or your client application. These are the basic steps I followed to start using PodNova to manage my podcast subscriptions instead of using iTunes by itself on a single computer:

  1. Register for a free account on the PodNova website.
  2. Use the PodNova podcast directory to search for and subscribe to podcasts of interest, and/or copy and paste RSS/XML feeds and subscribe to them with PodNova. If PodNova is not currently tracking that feed, after you subscribe to it you can “force an update” of the feed by clicking on it and choosing FORCE UPDATE.
  3. Download the PodNova client application for your operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux,) install it, and enter your PodNova website userid/password. In the PodNova preferences, specify the Player application (if any) that you want to use. This can include iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, XMMS, or BMPPlayer.
  4. In the subscriptions tab of PodNova, click on individual podcast feeds and select additional episodes (besides the most recent which is selected by default) that you want to download and listen to later.
  5. With the subscriptions tab selected, click the refresh/check for new podcasts button to download the podcasts you have subscribed to and selected.

A couple final things to note / be aware of:

  • Your subscribed podcasts will NOT show up under the PODCASTS category in iTunes or on your iPod. Instead, PodNova creates a new playlist for each podcast to which you are subscribed and puts each episode you’ve downloaded in it.
  • When you want to delete an entire podcast feed or particular episodes from a feed, use the CLEAN UP tab in PodNova. That way you can both delete it from both PodNova and from your iTunes Music Library simultaneously.
  • Like most podcatching programs, neither PodNova nor iTunes supports the OGG Vorbis format championed by Miguel Guhlin and others. It would be nice if PodNova could at least support OGG Vorbis with its browser-based player, but alas it appears it does not.

Give PodNova a try. The price is right (free) and there are multiple benefits / payoffs not available if you’re just subscribing on one computer via iTunes or another podcatcher. You don’t have to give up on using iTunes if you have other audio files (as I do) that you’ve purchased from the iTunes Music Store and want to keep synced to your iPod. PodNova does provide a much more robust way to subscribe and share your subscription info with other computers you’re using or with other people who may be interested in your subscriptions. As far as I know, iTunes does not support OPML export/import at all. At least not yet! 🙂

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9 Responses to PodNova and Podcast Subscriptions

  1. erik says:

    Hello Wesley,

    Thank you for the nice writeup about our service, it’s very much appreciated. I would like to point out that we would love to support ogg-vorbis but at the moment we are using a macromedia flash based player and the flash runtime only supports mp3’s at the moment (they even have to be in a special encoding). Hopefully this will change in future versions of the flash runtime.



  2. This was almost what I wanted but alas, as you state itunes does not support opml or xml importing/exporting. I did find this hack that may do it but again, it’s MAC only so it doesn’t help me but you might find it helpful.

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    iTunes does not support OMPL importing, but PodNova does, and PodNova supports iTunes. So you can import / export OPML with PodNova and then use it to sync iTunes.

  4. I realize that. I wanted a way to easily take my existing subscriptions from itunes without manually entering them into Podnova. Can Podnova import from itunes?

  5. Wesley Fryer says:

    Ah, yes. Sadly I don’t think that is correct. I faced the same issue migrating to podnova, having to resubscribe… It was a pain. I am doubting Apple is going to support OMPL import/export but who knows, maybe they will? It is an open standard. It would be great if they would, and if they (or someone) would provide a handy way to share your current podcast subscriptions via OPML through iWeb.

  6. J. Ross says:

    Can you point me to a program that will allow me to aggregate all new podcast downloads into one folder so I can then easily place them on my non-iPod MP3 player?

    I subscribe to about 20 podcasts and I would like to be able to move them to my MP3 player every couple of days. As it stands now, I use JUICE which places each podcast in a separate folder which I manually open to move the file. This is very time consuming.

    Thank you for any assistance – [ Jeff ]

  7. Britn Gross says:

    Hi guys! More than one year i had iTunes.And i agree with Wesley Fryer that iTunes does not support OMPL.

  8. Oren Golan says:

    I have just imported my 50 Itunes podcasts into PodNova in 1 minute.

    This is the trick –
    1. Export your Itunes to OMPL file.
    2. Open this file with notepad and add title=”” to every ‘outline’ XML tag.

    Now you can easily import the file using File/Import in PodNova.

  9. Wesley Fryer says:

    I didn’t know iTunes supported OPML export. I’ll have to check this out, this feature must have been added to iTunes in the last 6-12 months?

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