I recently started digging into Node.js as a means of getting more familiar with server-side programming, and getting a handle on the full stack of web development. Understanding even the fundamentals of how a web application works is certainly an asset to anyone’s front-end development work. If I can extrapolate an example, it’s a bit like designing the body of a car without understanding any of the components beneath. Naturally, it’s possible to sketch any superfluous design without that knowledge, but the actual production process would inevitably run into countless conflicts between design and real-world capability. An engine can’t disappear because of a certain curve in the car’s hood.
When I approached the desire to develop a web application, I thought first about what I found lacking in the existing compendium of web apps that I use on a daily basis. I have e-mail covered—GMail does a mighty fine job of that. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, especially when it’s as good as what Google’s come up with. There’s Google Reader for following RSS feeds, but that space is already pretty full with the likes of Pulse and dozens of mobile applications. No singe to-do/task manager has been perfect for my use, so my first inclination was to start there.
But that’s a little too easy, I thought. A little too common. It seems like a crop of a dozen new task managers jump up every other week, and they’re all beautifully capable.
The thing is, I listen to about twenty podcasts. Yes, that’s a lot. I’m listening to them about six hours a day. They fill the background of my 9-5 job. They make things a little more interesting. And yet, despite my obsession with podcasts, I’ve never been happy with any of the existing solutions for listening to them. Adding RSS feeds in Google Reader was tedious, because then I would never completely clear the queue of unread items. So-called “podcatchers” like Juice work great, but they’re isolated on the desktop. I can’t bring any of the data about my subscribed podcasts home with me at the end of the day, and that’s not very technologically-forward.
Enter my current project. It’s untitled as of right now, but when it’s released, it will be, as far as I know, one of the very few fully-functional, actively-developed web-based podcast managers. A good amount of the core features already exist on my localhost (a web server running on my computer alone): adding RSS feeds, updating them, and piping their MP3 files through a jPlayer implementation.
Right now, I’m working heavily on the UI. I want the experience to be simple and effortless while providing the necessary contextual information that podcast listeners often crave—the metadata and links to more content, if they’re interested in pursuing an idea further.
After that I’ll begin working on a basic “sync” function. This, at its core, will track the listener’s progress through a given podcast. If they pause the feed at one computer, they’ll be able to pick up where they left off on another. For me, this will ease the transition between work and home, if I want to finish a podcast but can’t wait until the next morning.
There’s about a dozen other features that I’d like to add in addition to that, but first thing’s first, right? I’ll be keeping the still-unnamed application completely open-source, and once I’m comfortable with a build I’ll add it to my Github account for others to watch, download, and fork, if they so please. I’ll be sure to update this page with that information as soon as it becomes available.
Until then, if you have any comments, or feature requests, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.