Boilerplate Etymology: a metaphor built on a metaphorJuly 6, 2022 - By Arley
This first image is a literal OG boiler, and it has a plate with text on it… This is not the true meaning actually; it’s just the first instance of the term having meaning.
In the 1800s we were doing printing by using individual letter blocks all stacked together – the image above is “the quick brown fox” text being set for printing in some sans-serif font; these would get basically inked then stamped onto paper. You can imagine how taxing this would be – and how typos or changes that cause new word-wrapping would be cumbersome.
This third image is a printing boilerplate – it wouldn’t need text manually and time-consumingly lined up like in the previous image. Instead, it was more like the text plate on the literal boiler – a person managing the printing could simply ink and stamp these as-is. You can imagine this would be an efficient way to have an ad printed in various newspapers around the country as an example. This is the etymology of the code-base boilerplate: a preset bit of content that isn’t built from scratch. Unlike this original application we do customize them quite a bit.
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This post was written by Arley