It’s one of the Publisher’s core aspects that differentiates it from other WordPress podcasting plugins: The thing we call “assets”.
In other podcast plugins it is common to either upload a media file to an episode or paste the media URL to an input field—and that’s about it for media management.
The Publisher treats your files differently. With more care, dare I say.
The Publisher knows what files you need per episode.
The Publisher knows where they can be found.
The Publisher knows when an episode is ready to publish.
The Publisher knows when a file from a five year old episode disappears.
Because of the concept of assets, it is easy to move all your files to a different location. Imagine a hundred episodes with media URLs in text fields. You would have to go through them all, change them and then make sure you didn’t mistype anything. Ugh. Using the Publisher, all you have to change is one setting: the location definition for all your files.
With assets, the Publisher allows you to have multiple media files per episode. That’s important for both audio and video: Sure, you can expect mp3 to play basically everywhere. But is it a great format? No. Should you bother about what is or isn’t a great format? Absolutely. Why? Because other formats sound better at the same file size or have a smaller file size for the same audio quality. There are more reasons, but audio quality per file size should be compelling enough since it matters both to publishers and listeners. Even if you shrug about your web hosting costs and don’t bother about a difference in 20MB file size on your gigabit connection, consider listeners in regions of the world who have to download your episodes over a wet shoelace rather than fibre.
In download analytics, you can see the distribution between formats.
All this is possible due to the concept of assets. They require you to define what media files you are going to have in your podcast and allow all of the awesomeness above. And more, if you are so inclined:
Do you have a downloadable PDF for each episode? Define it as an asset. Do you manage episode images like media files and store them in the same place rather than uploading them in WordPress? Define them as an asset. Doing that brings you all the benefits from above for those files, too: knowing when they are there and when they are missing, easy migrations, etc.
How about limitations or downsides to assets, rather than plain URLs? The most obvious hurdle for novice podcast publishers is that they have to get a grasp for assets and how they teach the Podlove Publisher what assets they have in their podcasts. I argue that copying URLs is _easy, not simple_. Having assets, however, makes otherwise complex tasks simple: migrating files to a new location, verifying all files for existence and correctness, avoiding human errors, and more.
There you have my take on assets and why I am still happy they are part of the core foundation of the Publisher.
This article first appeared in the "Publisher Weekly" Newsletter. Subscribe to get new articles delivered to your inbox.