(This artcle was previously published in the ASPects regarding ReplyButler, but now I’ll make it available to everyone.)
ADVANCED BOILERPLATE ISSUES
If the boilerplates really become useful for you and your collection grows, you’ll face a different problem. Finding a text you’ve written months ago. That’s why you have to organize and maintain your texts. Giving the texts short headlines is essential and folders are very handy, too.
If you do support in multiple languages, you’ll probably want to use the same text in these languages, too. This can be difficult with most boilerplate products, as they don’t support it. As a workaround you can use folders or prefixes (or postfixes) with the language name in the headline (like “EN – Install problem”). But it’s important to use the same headline for the same issue, no matter what language the response is in. Otherwise you’ll constantly look for the wrong text. (Another mistake that I already made.)
The English language isn t very picky when it comes to addressing a person, but other languages offer more choices than simply “you”. Depending on your language and communication policies you may even want to store the same text in different styles: formal and informal. Otherwise you might easily end up with addressing somebody with his last name in the greeting phrase and using an informal addressing (“tu” in Spanish, for example) in the boilerplate. Sometimes texts are basically the same for several products or vary in other minor issues. So it makes sense to use one single boilerplate here and just fill in the gap when you re inserting the text.
Some boilerplate programs can ask for the gap text. If yours doesn t, simply use a placeholder like ######. The hash marks are great because you can very easily see them and it s less likely that you send out a mail where you didn t fill in the gap.