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Boilerplate – What’s that mean?

October 9th, 2010

Boilerplate refers to infrequently changing but often-used things to speed the process of creating something.  I am most familiar with the term in relation to legal contracts and programming.

In legal documentation, boilerplate language would be language (phrases, paragraphes or entire sections of contracts) that doesn’t change from one document to the next.  In a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the basic language about the agreement will be the same from one NDA that a company builds to the next.  These sections that are similar can be considered boilerplate.  Specific terms of the contract are what differentiate one contract from the next.

In terms of programming, we have several examples. Interaction with databases tends to be pretty standard; you need to Create, Read, Update and/or Delete. These terms lead to the acronym CRUD. Because SQL-complaint relational databases handle these commands similarly we can utilize code that we’ve written before for most of these interactions. There are more precise definitions of code or object reuse in programming but this is a reasonable usage of the term boilerplate as it regards programming. We will reuse the bulk of what we’ve written before and modify it where we need to.

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