Diagnosing Feed and/or Player Issues

From time to time PowerPress may not function as desired in your blog. A majority of the time, the issue is caused by a conflict with another theme or plugin. Conflicts usually result when a theme or plugin modifies the page content after PowerPress added the player and links to the page. Conflicts also arise when plugins modify the feed content, usually either by adding non-supported markup in the XML or by modifying the values themselves.

There are thousands of themes and over 27,000 plugins just on WordPress.org. There’s bound to be an issue with at least one of them. Once you diagnose the plugin or theme that is causing your issue, let us know and if we can do something about it we will.

Diagnosing what Plugin/Theme is Causing the Conflict

To diagnose which theme or plugin is causing the conflict, disable plugins one by one while checking the page/feed with the issue. You must clear your web browser cache between each change to your site before testing the page or feed. Depending on your web browser, holding down CTRL+F5 may achieve this, otherwise you will need to go into your browsers settings and clear your cache. Maintain a list of which plugins you disable so you can re-enable them once you are done. We recommend disabling plugins in the following order:

  1. Disable WP caching plugins first. This is the most common issue for both problems with pages and feeds. Sometimes simply resetting the cache in the plugin can solve the issue.
  2. Disable plugins that haven’t been updated in the past 180 days next. Plugins that are not maintained regularly are more likely to cause conflicts. Remember, disable plugins one by one and test.
  3. If you still haven’t found the conflicting plugin, disable the remaining plugins one by one and test.

If you get to the point where you only have the PowerPress plugin enabled, then there may be a  conflict with your theme. Try switching your site to the packaged twentytwelve / twentythirteen theme that comes with WordPress.

If you are using the WordPress twentytwelve / twentythirteen theme with PowerPress being the only plugin enabled and you still have a conflict, one of the following may be the issue:

  • Missing or corrupt file in the powerpress plugin folder. – Delete the powerpress folder, then re-install PowerPress from the WordPress  > plugins menu.
  • WordPress issue – WordPress database tables may be corrupt or missing, key WordPress php files may be corrupted or missing, or an outdated version of WordPress is installed.
  • Web server Issue – Possible issues include site/file caching issues, hard drive/hardware issues, load balancing/cloud corruption, improperly or corrupt .htaccess files, or outdated versions of PHP/MySQL could be causing the issue. Contact your web hosting provider about the issue.

Feed or iTunes image Not Updating in iTunes Directory

Please use the following list with your web developer / server administrator to diagnose your iTunes issue.

  • Make sure your web server fully supports HTTP/1.1 protocol. This includes both HEAD and GET requests and multi-byte requests (byte serving). We are aware of low cost web hosting providers who provide CDN/cloud based web hosting that are not HTTP/1.1 complaint including CloudFare. If you are unsure of your web hosting providers CDN/cloud support, have them disable the CDN/cloud feature then give iTunes 72 hours to update.
  • Make sure your feed size does not exceed 512K (1/2MB) in size. To test this, simply view you feed in your web browser, then select the ‘save-as’ option to save the feed locally onto your computer. Then use the properties option on your computer to get the file size of the saved XML file. (DO NOT use the file size reported in your web browser, it will report in most cases a file size much smaller due to HTTP compression)
  • Make sure your iTunes image does not exceed 512K (1/2MB) in size in jpg format. Use the properties option on your computer to get the file size of the image. If it exceeds 512K in size, re-save the image using a lower jpg quality setting. A quality setting of 75 or lower should result in a 1400×1400 jpg image smaller than 512K. A quality setting of 40 is recommended. you will need to zoom in dramatically to observe the difference in quality with a jpg. If your image is in PNG format, simply converting it to jpg will almost always result in a smaller image file size.
  • Make sure no other plugin is adding unnecessary content to the feed, which can make the feed unreadable to iTunes.
  • If you are using a WordPress caching plugin, make sure it does not add HTML comments to the very bottom of feed. If it does, you must either disabled the caching plugin or configure it not add such comments to your feeds. Your iTunes listing will stop updating if your feed has HTML comments at the very bottom.
  • If your web server is using a security module (like mod_security) and/or you are using security WordPress plugins, more than likely they are blocking some of the HTTP/1.1 protocol methods (GET, HEAD or multi-byte requests) which are required for iTunes. When you disable such WordPress plugins, make sure you rebuild your .htaccess file since these plugins sometimes leave code that is causing the conflict.

Media Playback or Download Issues

There are many possible media playback and downloading issues, the list below includes only the most common. We recommend using Blubrry Media hosting service if you have any doubt that your media is not being hosted properly.

  • Media is not in the correct audio (mp3/m4a) or video (mp4/m4v) format. See Creating Podcast Media in the Podcasting Manual to learn more about which format is recommended for audio and video.
  • Web hosting is not HTTP/1.1 complaint or reporting the right meta information.
  • Media file is not optimized for the Internet.
  • Media is being served from the same server as the web site.

Learn more about Podcast Media Hosting and requirements.

 

Why is PowerPress most likely not the problem?

More than likely the issue is not caused by PowerPress. Keep in mind that PowerPress adds functionality to WordPress. It does not contain code to purposely make feeds or pages not work. Based on rules set by WordPress.org, PowerPress inserts additional meta data in both WordPress feeds and pages in order to provide the functionality required for podcasting.

WordPress, PowerPress and Feeds: WordPress feeds are created by WordPress. Via code, PowerPress asks WordPress to create a podcast only feed for you. This feed is then created by WordPress so PowerPress can add additional meta data to it. If there is a feed issue, more likely than not it is caused by either your web server, a plugin and/or a theme. The diagnosing instruction above were written with this in mind.

WordPress, PowerPress, pages and your theme: PowerPress adds content to your blog posts and pages using specific WordPress filters. Specifically, the “the_content” and “the_excerpt” filters are called when your theme correctly uses the get_the_content() and get_the_excerpt() functions respectively. Once PowerPress adds the player and/or podcast meta data to the filter, it is left to other plugins and the theme to properly handle the results. In many cases, themes or plugins are written where they modify the_content or the_excerpt after the fact, damaging the code PowerPress inserted into the content. Other times, the theme has special code to handle the content in it’s own way which circumvents the the_content/the_excerpt filters all together. The diagnosing instruction above were written so you can discover what theme or plugin is causing the conflict.

Web Server Caching: Web server caching, the act of making a copy of the URL to improve the performance of the web server, plays a large role in diagnosing issues. Keep in mind that caching can be occurring at multiple levels. If you are having caching issues, WordPress based caching plugins are more than likely the problem and why we recommend disabling these plugins first. These caching plugins are written to support a magnitude of different web server configurations, which makes them very complex. Caching may also occur in the web server itself. Both the web server software (e.g. Apache and MySQL) and/or the web server file system could be the source of caching issues. Consult with your hosting provider or server administrator if you suspect server level issues.

Your Web Browser: In some cases, the problem may only be with your specific web browser. Web browser caching is aggressive, a simple refresh (F5 or SHIFT+F5) may not clear your web browser cache completely. Plan on going into your browser settings and specifically clearing your browser cache to guarantee that your browser’s cache is empty. At this time we only trust Firefox web browser to correctly clear the browser cache when you use the SHIFT+F5 combination.

Remember that issues can be caused by even the simplest things. We helped a client with their web site posting episodes 24+ hours late. We discovered the date and time on the server was incorrect, setting up the server to synchronize it’s time with a known time server solved the issue.

I still have a conflict and need help!

You can hire us and schedule a consultation with one of our expert technicians to help you diagnose the issue. pleas see our consulting services page for more details!

I know for certain PowerPress is the issue

To demonstrate that a feed or player issue is caused by PowerPress, document how to replicate the issue using WordPress with the twentythirteen (WordPress default) theme with no other plugins enabled other than PowerPress. Write in detail how to replicate the issue, then contact the Blubrry team so we can fix the issue in PowerPress.

If you find that the conflict is between another theme or plugin and PowerPress, please send us detailed documentation of the problem. We’ll gladly accept patches that solve issues with other themes or plugins. We will not, based on solely a complaint, solve a theme or plugin conflict without any specific documentation explaining what the conflict is. A simple “It doesn’t work with X theme” is not sufficient enough for us to be able to solve the issue. Greater detail is needed in order for us to setup a duplicate environment to replicate the problem.

NOTE: Conflicting themes and plugins must be hosted on WordPress.org (thus licensed as GPL) in order for us to work on the conflict. Themes and plugins not hosted on WordPress.org are potentially not GPL. If you would like us to resolve a conflict with themes or plugins not hosted on WordPress.org, you may hire us Blubrry as consultants to work on the conflict.

 

Report the Conflict on the Blubrry Forums!

If you do discover a plugin or theme conflict, please report the issue on the blubrry.com forums in the PowerPress section. Link: http://forum.blubrry.com/index.php/board,25.0.html