Boilerplate (text)

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Boilerplate is any text that is or can be reused in new contexts or applications without being changed much from the original. Many computer programmers often use the term boilerplate code.

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Etymology

"Boiler plate" originally referred to the maker's label used to identify the builder of steam boilers. This link shows an example of a boiler plate.

In the field of printing, the term dates back to the early 1900s. From the 1890s onwards, printing plates of text for widespread reproduction such as advertisements or syndicated columns were cast or stamped in steel (instead of the much softer and less durable lead alloys used otherwise) ready for the printing press and distributed to newspapers around the United States. They came to be known as 'boilerplates'. Until the 1950s, thousands of newspapers received and used this kind of boilerplate from the nation's largest supplier, the Western Newspaper Union.[citation needed]

Some companies also sent out press releases as boilerplate so that they had to be printed as written. The modern equivalent is the press release boilerplate, or "boiler," a paragraph or two that describes the company and its products.[citation needed]

Boilerplate language

The term "boilerplate" has been adopted by lawyers to describe those parts of a contract that are considered "standard language".

The word has also come into use for pre-created form letters on the Internet for things such as issues to be broached by a politician based on an issue ad, requesting a cable network be added to a system by a cable or satellite operator, or a pre-written complaint about something such as a program, book, or video game opposed by a group which created the letter, along with online petitions. Usually the greeting and the body of the letter have been pre-written, requiring the person requesting the action only to type or sign his or her name at the end.

Boilerplate code

In computer programming, boilerplate is the term used to describe sections of code that have to be included in many places with little or no alteration. It is more often used when referring to languages which are considered verbose, i.e. the programmer must write a lot of code for minimal functionality. The need for boilerplate can be reduced through high-level mechanisms.

A related term is bookkeeping code, referring to code that is not part of the business logic but is interleaved with it in order to keep data structures updated or handle secondary aspects of the program.

See also

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