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Boilerplate Generator


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

A common program task is generating boilerplate, e.g. standard HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to start up a video on YouTube. 99% of it is standard, with a few places that have to be customised. It might be a form letter email with a standard message, with the person’s name and account number inserted. This code is tedious to write. Here is a simple example:

Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could specify something like this:

Common stuff xxxx %custom% more common stuff.
You owe %owing% dollars.

and have a utility stomp out the Java code above.

The disadvantage of the scheme is you must rerun the boilerplate utility every time your boilerplate changes, insert the generated code in your project, recompile and redistribute. So you might also want to write a version that automatically regenerates the code and recompiles it at run time as needed using the interface. You also might want to write a version that does not generate Java code, but that either generates code for a simple interpreter, or that parses the boilerplate and does the replacement on every expansion at run time.

If you want to get fancy, you could allow arithmetic, logical expressions and alternate text in your boilerplate. You could have system variables like current date and time. You might have a look at the form letter abilities in MS Word for ideas.

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