Date: 2006-04-16 18:22:16
Quoting John Maddock <john_at_[hidden]>:
> Historically, "boilerplate" was the thick steel plate that boilers were made
> from: if it wasn't well made the boiler would go "bang" and usually kill
This is off-topic, but nobody has told the apocryphal story about where
the term supposedly comes from. Apologies in advance.
There was once a contractor that was bidding for a US DoD tender. For
those who have never participated in a defence bid (it's similar in
other places in the world), you have to supply so much paperwork that
nobody can possibly all of it from all of the bidders. The joke in the
business was that the DoD just read the summary and weighed the rest.
The story goes that this contractor decided to test the theory by
cutting the middle out of one especially large volume and putting in
a piece of boilerplate to increase the mass.
They got the contract.
So "boilerplate" refers to any piece of documentation, code or similar
that has no useful semantic content but has to be there whether you like
it or not. Like TPS reports, boilerplate code/documentation keeps you
busy in an unproductive way.
Actually, on a related note, I heard of a study once which claimed that
the availability of word processors has INCREASED the amount of work
that it takes to produce a legal contract. Once upon a time, the
boilerplate was nicely typed and the names, dates and other particulars
were filled in by hand, so it was easy to tell them apart. Apparently
nowadays, the boilerplate takes the forms of word processing templates.
The upshot is that you can't easily tell the difference any more, so
every word of every iteration has to be compared with the previous
iteration to make sure that nobody added anything.