What’s in Lion Server’s Podcast Producer

By John Rizzo

Lion Server’s Podcast Producer is a collection of software, both on the server and on users’ Macs. Some of the Podcast Producer software has a user interface, and some doesn’t. Knowing about the bits that you don’t see is helpful in understanding what Podcast Producer does and how it does it:

  • The Podcast service: This ties everything together; it passes authentication to the directory service that receives content from users and forwards information to where it needs to be. You use the Server app to turn the Podcast service on and off and make some configuration changes.

  • Podcast Capture application: This is software for Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 clients to use to record audio and video and to send them to the server. You can record from a remote camera controlled by the server or from the built-in camera on a Mac or even from two video sources.

    Podcast Capture can also record what’s happening on the computer screen. Podcast Capture can send QuickTime movies and audio to Podcast Producer for processing and distribution. It can also connect to the Podcast Producer Server. You can find it in the /Applications/Utilities folder.

  • Podcast Publisher application: This is another application in the /Applications/Utilities folder found on users’ Macs. New to Lion, Podcast Publisher is a more basic tool than Podcast Capture, enabling users to create basic podcasts. It can record from the Mac’s built-in camera, as well as record the computer-screen activity, and import video and audio. Users can publish to a Podcast Library on Mac OS X Server.

  • Podcast Capture web application: This server-based technology enables users of any operating system to record video and send it to the Podcast Producer service. The Podcast Capture web application can’t record the computer screen activity, however. You don’t have to install anything on users’ computers. Users simply access a web page on the server.

  • Podcast Composer application: Podcast Composer is one of the server tools. You use it to create and edit workflows as it guides you through the steps needed. You can choose intro titles, intro and ending videos, watermarks, and effects, or you can add your own. You specify the workflow and the publishing and distribution method: wiki, iTunes U, or Podcast Library. Look for Podcast Composer in the /Applications/Server/ folder.

  • Podcast Library: Podcast Library is a shared file system that holds the workflows and job submissions, as well as a set of software routines. The library stores the content submitted by users, as well as the rendered content generated by Xgrid. Podcast Library organizes all this based on information about the job that the user supplies in Podcast Capture.

    Podcast Library is also a server that distributes content to the viewers — customers, employees, or students. It can send content to Wiki Server 3. Podcast Library sends out lists of updates as feeds viewable in Safari, Mail, or any RSS reader.

    Podcast Producer can also send Atom feeds to iTunes or iTunes U, which are visible in the iTunes Store but leave the content on your server. An Atom feed contains multiple versions of the podcast that have been encoded for different devices (computer, iPod, Apple TV, and audio-only). The viewer’s device chooses what it needs.

  • The Xgrid service: Xgrid does the grunt work of Podcast Producer — putting together the pieces, rendering transitions, and encoding the video. Because video encoding is a processor-and-memory-intensive task, Xgrid can send the jobs out to an Xgrid cluster that you set up, which consists of one or more Macs on the network.

    Xgrid is actually a service apart from Podcast Library and is designed to be used for any processor-intensive task. Podcast Producer puts it to practical use for you without any heavy lifting on your part.