Swimm, a Tel Aviv startup that streamlines software development documentation workflows, has raised an additional $27.6 million. CEO and cofounder Oren Toledano told VentureBeat the investment would help expand core platform functionality, improve integration into more development tools, facilitate team stats, and double staff.
Other companies have explored using structured markup languages like Swagger and the Restful API Modeling Language to dynamically generate documentation as part of software development. But these approaches struggled with automatically generating reasons developers made a particular decision.
Document automation alternatives include tools like GhostDoc, a Visual Studio extension for generating documentation from source code, and the Atlassian REST API Browser. Open source tools such as Pandoc and GitHub pages cover individual aspects of the documentation process. Swimm is targeted at more end-to-end continuous documentation automation as part of a DevOps development.
“Our goal with Swimm is to create a new generation of automated documentation that will provide more complex insight on flows, logic, and features within code that does not yet exist today in automatically generated documentation tools,” Toledano said.
The company specializes in tools that bring agility and automation to software documentation processes that lead to better quality. The 2021 State of DevOps report by Google’s DevOps Research and Assessment group observed that teams with higher quality documentation were 2.4 times more likely to see better software delivery and operational performance. They were also 3.8 times more likely to implement security practices and 3.5 times more likely to implement site reliability engineering practices.
Most companies have adopted CI/CD tools for continuous integration and continuous deployment, but documentation often involves additional steps. As a result, only about 25% of companies in the Google survey reported having good quality documentation. Swimm investors are betting that enhancing the technical underpinnings of documentation could close that gap in the same way CI/CD tools streamlined other DevOps practices.
“We are proposing a solution to a problem that everybody encounters, but nobody really knows how to deal with because of the lack of comprehensive tools,” Toledano said.
Swimm surfaces documentation processes directly into the integrated development environments (IDE) where developers write code. Changes to the application code automatically update code snippets in the documentation as well. The tools also alert developers when changes might affect the meaning of documents so the developers can make the appropriate changes. The Swimm platform also helps developers aggregate curated sequences of documents, videos, and external knowledge links into playlists to help acclimate new hires to the team’s code.
The company is granting free access to its continuous documentation platform as part of an open beta.
Typically, internal code documentation is limited in scope to either tactical information, usually explained in code comments, or high-level concepts like business logic, architecture, and major decisions made in development. While these may be essential, their value is also limited, Toledano said. Code comments may generally be replaced by code written more clearly, and high-level documentation is usually read only once.
The Swimm tools enables a third documentation scope the company calls “walkthrough documentation.” Developers write documentation that references parts of the code to describe a certain pattern in development, the flow of data in the product, or explain the interactions between modules.
Walkthrough documentation can save countless hours searching for answers, reverse engineering, and walking through the code verbally with a fellow developer. But keeping that documentation up to date as the code changes is often impractical, and for that reason, rarely happens.
“Digital drives and various documentation tools become graveyards for documents that someone spent hours making but are now obsolete,” Toledano explained.
Investors include Insight Partners, Dawn Capital, Pitango First, and Tau Ventures.
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