Swimm helps developers share knowledge and understand each other’s code

Pretty much every company these days is a software company to some degree, meaning that every company has to manage code in some form. The bigger a business becomes, however, and the more that it relies on software to operate, the bigger the codebases become and the more engineers and developers come and go from a company– this is where things can start to get complicated, especially when the original author has not provided sufficient documentation to show their workings.

Indeed, understanding code written by someone else can be a major challenge for anyone, not to mention newcomers to an engineering team. And this is where Israeli startup Swimm is setting out to help, by enabling developer teams to understand code by synchronizing it to smart documentation that stays current even when the codebase changes. Ultimately this is designed to help with developer onboarding and cross-team collaboration, which is particularly important at a time when much of the global workforce operates remotely.

Today, the Tel Aviv-based company formally emerged from stealth after six months in closed beta, and announced that it has raised $5.7 million in a seed round of funding led by Pitango First.

The biggest paint point that Swimm solves is the time it takes for developers to understand a new codebase or parts of the code in an “unknown area,” Swimm cofounder and CEO Oren Toledano told VentureBeat. “This pain occurs when a developer joins a new company, a new team, switching between projects, or contributing to open source,” he said. “This is both time-consuming, pricey, and painful at the company and employee level.”

How it works

Companies deploy Swimm by installing its desktop app, which the developer team(s) then add their relevant Git repositories, be that from GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, or wherever. The platform doesn’t yet support other version control systems, such as Mercurial or Perforce. Once synced, all content created by Swimm’s users is stored on the client’s repository, and isn’t shared with Swimm’s servers.

Above: Swimm’s platform

With “snippet studio,” users can create code tutorials and documents directly from the codebase, allowing engineers to highlight specific areas to include comments that explain their logic, and sync it with “playlists” that cover a specific issue in-depth.

Above: Swimm: Playlists and units

Given that codebases are constantly evolving, the corresponding tutorials and documentation need to change too which is why Swimm has developed an auto-sync algorithm that automatically suggests changes to the documents.

Above: Swimm: Auto sync

Swimm will eventually operate a subscription-based SaaS model, but while it remains in closed beta, Toledano said that it is “still exploring different pricing models” based on the size of the team using it. And although it hasn’t divulged any early-stage users, Toledano said that they range from “very small and early-stage startups to large enterprises” across the U.S. and Israel.

There are plenty of knowledge management tools out there already aimed at the software development sphere such as Stack Overflow. A slew of emerging startups are also helping developer teams stay efficient and organized, such as universal code search platform Sourcegraph which recently raised $50 million; project management and issue tracking tool Linear, which recently raised $13 million; and Openbase, which wants to be the Yelp for open source software packages, announced a $3.6 million seed round yesterday.

Swimm fits into that broader trend, serving to encourage knowledge-sharing and reduce friction across software companies as their codebases and engineering teams evolve.

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