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Guest mrdavidlaing

Exemplar or example?

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Guest mrdavidlaing

Exemplar is technically more correct for a valid code sample; but it always strikes me as unusual. As a result, I find myself thinking about terminology, rather than the content of the sample.

What do the non-native English speakers amongst us think?

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Guest sky.sanders

I had the same discussion with myself (no remarks from the peanut gallery) and this is what we arrived at:

An ‘example’ or ‘sample’ would be a bit of code that accomplishes something while an ‘exemplar’ is a codified valid instance of a data structure.

This is not intended as an answer rather an explanation of my choice of terminology to inform the discussion and I am not invested in either term.

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Interesting question – I’m not used to ‘exemplar’ as a common English term and would have simply read it as a variation of ‘instance’ at first sight; however, the technically more correct interpretation of being a particularly good/noteworthy/special/to be imitated example immediately resonates with me and actually matches the interpretation in German as well: ‘Exemplar’ translates exactly to ‘Exemplar’ and is most commonly used to denote identical copies of something, e.g. I need 4 exemplars of this book; interestingly one would usually only say this for things not easily copied or of particular value, i.e. one wouldn’t say I’d like 4 exemplars of this soft drink – I wasn’t really aware of this subtle difference until you mentioned the subject though. Another common usage would be one of the last exemplars of its kind (regarding a rare plant, animal, or a piece of art), again stressing the difference to your everyday example/instance.

Consequently Sky’s choice of terminology definitely makes sense to me now, though only after realizing the subtle differences on the fly.

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