In the field of computer programming, a boilerplate code (often called a boilerplate) is a piece of code that can be used by many people with only a small change or sometimes no changes at all. In the corporate world, there is always a need of doing more productive tasks in the minimum possible time. It has been a standard of many companies to use boilerplate code for some specific tasks to cut down the production time.
For example – The following code in C++ can be considered as boilerplate and would be the same for probably all the C++ programs.
using namespace std;
Everything written in the above code is something that you need to write irrespective of what logic you are writing. For example, you would need to include the standard ‘iostream’ library and you would also need to define the main function.
A boilerplate can contain some chunks of code that may not be mandatory but you can make changes to that according to your need. Or, a boilerplate can contain some code that you need to use as it is by adding some code. In this case, all the things that the boilerplate would be essential and should be used in the original.
Boilerplate code can be helpful when you are starting out in programming because it will save you time and effort. By using the same patterns and conventions, you will be able to write more legible and organized code. Additionally, using boilerplate code can help you learn new concepts more quickly because the patterns are already familiar to you.
History of boilerplate
The term ‘boiler plate’ gained popularity from the business of newspapers. Different columns and other pieces were distributed by print syndicates and were sent to various subscribers in the form of printing plates. Those plates resemble to the plates of metal that were used in the production of boilers.
During the middle of the 1800’s boilerplates were the steel plates used in the manufacture of the boilers for steamships. During 1900’s the newspaper industry started to use the term “boilerplate”.
Why to use a boilerplate?
- The main benefit of using boilerplates is to reduce the time consumed in software development by reusing primary things. Thus accelerating development!
- The code written is comparatively cleaner and easy to debug.
Examples of boilerplates in HTML
HTML is a markup language used to build the basic structure of a web page.
In HTML, the below-given boilerplate is often used in probably all of the web pages.
In object-oriented programming
In object-oriented programming, a class is a collection of methods (member functions) and variables (data members). These methods can be considered boilerplates. Even different classes can have different getter and setter methods but they are kind of like the same. For example, in the below-given C++ code, everything is boilerplate except the declarations for the car.
using namespace std;
void setInfo(string n, int m)
name = n;
mileage = m;
cout<<"The name of the car is "<<name<<endl;
cout<<"The mileage of the car is "<<mileage<<endl;
Car A, B;
The boilerplate concept in Frameworks
Let’s take the example of CodeIgniter, which is a very popular MVC framework written in PHP. CodeIgniter has a inbuilt structure for all of the necessary modules including the controller and the models.
Some programming language contains declarative statements which cannot be considered a necessary part of the logical code but still, they are included at the start of the code. Let’s have a look at the below statements written at the start of a C++ program.
using namespace std;
iostream is a header file that needs to be included at the very start of a program to use the standard statements to take input from a user and to display the output to the screen. All of the statements that have the # symbol at the starting are called preprocessor directives. A preprocessor directive(or preprocessor in short) tells the compiler to process all the statements first that start with #.
The include statement can be used in one of the following ways –
- #include: This is a directive that would include a predefined header file.
- #include “file-name”: This is a directive that would include a user-defined header file.
The ‘using namespace std’ statement just means that something is present in the declared scope. It is to use the standard statements without the need to prefix std. For example std::cout.
Let’s take a look at some useful boilerplates
- HTML5-Boilerplate: HTML5 boilerplate is a collection of HTML and CSS code that you can use to create a basic website or web application. It’s designed to make creating websites faster and easier, and it includes features like responsive design, mobile support, and cross-browser compatibility.
- Electron & Vue: Its a project whose aim is to remove the need to manually set up Electron apps using Vue. electron-vue uses vue-cli for scaffolding, electron-builder, and some plugins like vue-router and vuex.
- jQuery Plugin: jQuery plugin boilerplate is a collection of useful scripts and styles that can speed up development of jQuery plugins. It includes a basic structure for developing plugins with version tracking, unit testing, documentation generation, and distribution via npm or bower. The boilerplate also includes code coverage tools to help identify areas of your code that need improvement.
- Laravel: Laravel boilerplate is a popular starting point for Laravel projects. It contains everything you need to get started, including a model database, a route controller, and a well-tested front end. boilerplate also includes useful features like scaffolding and testing.
- WordPress Plugin: WordPress is a popular content management system that allows users to create and manage their websites. WordPress plugins are a great way to add extra functionality to your website, but creating a plugin from scratch can be time-consuming and daunting. That’s where boilerplates come in! Boilerplates are pre-made templates that help you get started with creating your plugin, and they’re available for free online. There are many boilerplate plugins available, so it’s worth exploring different options before starting from scratch.
- Flask: A boilerplate for a Flask web app is provided to get you started quickly. The code includes a basic CRUD interface and an admin panel. You can customize the code to fit your specific needs.
- Django & Angular: Django and Angular are two popular web frameworks that offer similar features. To make your life easier, you can use a boilerplate to quickly get up and running with either framework. Angular offers a boilerplate for creating a new project, while Django offers a variety of pre-made projects. Both frameworks have their pros and cons, but using a boilerplate will help you learn the ropes quickly.
- Django & React: Django and React are two popular frameworks for building user interfaces. Both frameworks have their own pros and cons, but they both come with a boilerplate that can make developing projects much easier.
- Nginx Server Config: This is a boilerplate configuration for an Nginx server. It is designed to be both easy to understand and extend. The following sections describe the configuration in detail.
- Server block: This block contains the general settings for the Nginx server.
- Virtual Hosts and directories: Here you can define which hosts can access your website via Nginx, as well as where they can find your website’s files (Virtual Hosts).
- HTTP/2 Settings: You can configure whether or not your website should support HTTP/2, and if so, how it should be enabled.
- Configuration Files: Here you can specify which files are served from Nginx, and which are sourced from external sources (such as PHP or Python scripts).
- Android: Android boilerplate can save you time when starting a new project. It includes common features and libraries so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you start a new project. This makes your life easier, and helps you focus on the important tasks of developing your app.
Some fundamental characteristics that a boilerplate must fulfill
- It should follow industry standards.
- Should be scalable.
- Should be easy to test and can be integrated with different APIs.
- Should support CLI tool.
- Should have a proper structure.
- Has good documentation.
- Should offer code splitting.
In conclusion, boilerplate code is a great way to get started with programming, but it’s important to keep development standards high so that your codebase remains readable and maintainable. Remember to use best practices such as naming conventions and modularity to make your codebase more consistent and easier to work with. Finally, always document your codebase so that others can understand it better.