Author image Marvin Humphrey
and 1 contributors


Boilerplater - Generate boilerplate OO code


Boilerplater is an implementation detail. This documentation is partial -- enough for the curious hacker, but not a full API.


Boilerplater looks for special keywords in C header files and generates boilerplate OO code when it finds them. The keywords must all begin with a user-settable prefix, and they must be the first item on a line to be recognized as valid.

As far as the C compiler is concerned, the keywords are simply macros defined to do nothing -- so they only have meaning vis-a-vis boilerplater.

Object Model

  • Single inheritance.

  • Memory management via reference counting.

  • Method dispatch using virtual tables.

  • All classes descend from Obj.

Prefixes and Short names

All boilerplater symbols are prepended with one of three prefixes to avoid namespace collisions. For the rest of this document, we'll use "Boiler" as our project name and "boil_", "Boil_", and "BOIL_" as prefixes.

"Short names" -- names minus the prefix -- will be auto-generated for all class symbols, including the names of all functions declared between BOIL_CLASS and BOIL_END_CLASS. When there is no danger of namespace collision, typically because no third-party non-system libraries are being #included, the short names can be used after a USE_SHORT_NAMES directive:



The boilerplate code is written to a file with whose name is the same as the header file, but with an extension of ".r" (for "representation") rather than ".h". Files should include "Boiler/Util/Foo.r" rather than "Boiler/Util/Foo.h".

Header file requirements

Class declarations begin with a BOIL_CLASS directive and end with BOIL_END_CLASS. They must be prepared by including Obj.r and pre-declaring the object and vtable typedefs.

    #ifndef H_BOIL_FOO
    #define H_BOIL_FOO 1

    #include "Boiler/Util/Obj.r"

    typedef struct boil_Foo boil_Foo;

    BOIL_CLASS("Boiler::Util::Foo", "Foo", "Boiler::Util::Obj")

    struct boil_Foo {
        const BOIL_FOO_VTABLE *_;
        boil_u32_t refcount;
        boil_u32_t num_widgets;

    boil_Foo_do_stuff(Foo *self);

    boil_Foo_destroy(Foo *self);


    #endif /* H_BOIL_FOO */

In between BOIL_CLASS and BOIL_END_CLASS, all code must adhere strictly to all guidelines. Comments are allowed, but auxiliary macros, functions and such should be defined outside the class declaration, since boilerplater's parser will throw an error if it finds something it doesn't understand.

Pre-declaring object and vtable structs

The name of the object struct must be in UpperCamelCase and be prepended with boil_:

    typedef boil_ClassName boil_ClassName;

The vtable struct's name must be an upper-cased version of the struct name with "_VTABLE" appended. (The vtable struct definition will be auto-generated.)


Object struct definition

The class's object struct definition must adhere to the following criteria:

  • The first member must be a vtable pointer named _.

  • All classes save Obj must inherit all members from their parent class other than the vtable. To facilitate this, a macro named BOIL_CLASSNAME_MEMBER_VARS is auto-generated for each class which contains all members save _ (the vtable). This macro should follow _ in the child class's object struct definition:

        struct boil_FooJr {
            BOIL_FOOJR_VTABLE *_;
            boil_i32_t another_variable;

Function declaration conventions

All functions declared between BOIL_CLASS and BOIL_END_CLASS must follow this naming pattern:

    boil_ . $class_nick . '_' . $micro_name;

$class_nick must be the one specified via BOIL_CLASS. $micro_name must consist of only characters matching [a-z0-9_].


BOIL_CLASS( [class_name], [class_nick], [parent_class] );

Begin a class declaration. Three double-quoted string arguments are required, and the struct definition for the object must follow on immediately afterwards.

  • class_name - The name of this class. The last word should match the struct's short name.

  • class_nick - A recognizable abbreviation of the class name, used as a prefix for every function and method.

  • parent_class - The full name of the parent class.


Terminate a class declaration.


This directive assigns method semantics to the supplied double-quoted string argument, creating a macro which invokes a corresponding function via vtable double-dereference (unless the class is final). A function with a matching class name and a lower-cased version of Method_Name must be available.

Example: this combination of a function definition and BOIL_METHOD directive...

    boil_Foo_do_stuff(boil_Foo *self);

... adds boil_Foo_do_stuff to Foo's vtable and generates this method macro:

    #define Boil_Foo_Do_Stuff(self) \

BOIL_FINAL_METHOD( "Boil_ClassNick_Method_Name", function_decl );

As BOIL_METHOD above, but method macro becomes a direct alias to the function name, rather than a vtable invocation.

BOIL_FINAL_CLASS( [class_name], [class_nick], [parent_class] );

As BOIL_CLASS above, but causes all methods to become final.

Class definition file requirements

There is only one requirement for the C file where the class is fully defined. Before the pound-include directive for the ".r" file, the vtable must be claimed:

    #include "Boiler/Util/Foo.r"


Copyright 2006-2007 Marvin Humphrey

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify under the same terms as Perl itself.