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Interview with Oren Toledano, CEO and Co-Founder of Swimm

“Continuous Documentation allows developers to regain trust in the process”

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / 0beron

Why do developers struggle to create and maintain documentation and what challenges are posed by stale documentation? We had a chat with Oren Toledano, CEO and Co-Founder of Swimm, about the Swimm platform, Continuous Documentation, its benefits, and how it can empower developer teams.

JAXenter: Why do developers struggle to create and maintain documentation?

Oren Toledano: It’s common for developers to struggle with creating and maintaining documentation because it’s a time-consuming process that competes with writing actual code. For developers, documenting code can feel like a chore — something they need to finish before moving on to the next exciting project. Additionally, because the code constantly changes, documentation quickly becomes outdated. In our experience, this can become very frustrating for developers when they need documentation and find that it’s stale.

We are bringing Continuous Documentation to the mainstream and it has quickly become crucial, mainly because code is rapidly changing, and so are companies. Instead of physically walking developers through the code and wasting valuable time, Swimm is simplifying the process of creating, maintaining, and consuming documentation, allowing development teams to seamlessly integrate documentation and onboarding as a basic part of the development lifecycle.

JAXenter: What challenges do developer teams face due to outdated or insufficient documentation?

Oren Toledano: We found that the root of the problem is that documentation typically requires a high level of investment to create, but becomes stale pretty quickly. This ends up becoming a frustrating experience for developers, hampering productivity and drastically limiting teams’ agility.

And so what happens? This dynamic leads to developers losing trust in documentation, creating a vicious cycle where developers don’t invest time in creating valuable documentation, as they know it will soon become effectively obsolete.

Without the proper tools to build up internal knowledge and code transparency, developers cannot be on top of the codebase. This leads to annoyance for many teams, creates knowledge silos with strong dependencies on specific team members, and contributes to more bugs.

SEE ALSO: Getting Started with the DataStax Astra Java SDK

JAXenter: How does Swimm address these pain points?

Oren Toledano: Our solution does the heavy lifting for many developers who want to start documenting and are not sure how and when. With Swimm, our users create Walkthrough Documentation — documents that explicitly reference parts of the codebase. The result is a document with texts and references such as complete snippets of code. This on its own creates a very illuminating experience — just like having the engineer who originally developed the code walk you through it.

Swimm monitors the code and makes sure that documentation is always up to date. Swimm is also introducing live code snippets that auto-sync whenever there are changes to the code base. This way, Swimm is embedding documentation into the development workflow — within the CI — so that when the code changes, developers can update the documentation automatically. Our patented technology analyzes changes in the code to determine whether part of the documentation has become obsolete or if it can be automatically updated. Our ultimate goal is for the code and documentation to always be in sync so developers can take full advantage of the power of Continuous Documentation.

We are automating the process of syncing documentation to solve a myriad of problems and to empower developers to quickly write and consume a new type of documentation that’s coupled with the code. This enables integrating into the CI, to flag any changes in real-time so that your documentation is always up to date.

Continuous Documentation allows developers to regain trust in the process and get back to writing documentation in a more granular way. Adding more details means better team collaboration and productivity. Overhead is significantly lower, documentation is integrated into the workflow, and developers feel the change instantly.

JAXenter: What are some of Swimm’s key features that separate it from other solutions?

Oren Toledano: Swimm has a lineup of great features, but I would like to highlight three of Swimm’s most important and fundamental features for developer teams:

  • Swimm’s auto-sync algorithm helps engineering teams easily follow code changes and update documentation automatically.
  • Swimm integrations with multiple IDEs enable developers to find and consume relevant documentation easily, exactly at the time when it’s relevant for them. Swimm Docs are in Markdown so they can be read in any text editor.
  • Swimm’s documentation Editor is dev-centric by design, language-agnostic and built for developers to create code-coupled Walkthrough Documentation. The platform also allows you to create documents directly from pull requests and templates that Swimm built for different use cases.

These are some of the game changing features at the core of Swimm’s Continuous Documentation platform. Setting up Swimm is easy — you simply connect Swimm to GitHub, your IDE, and CI, and then ‘run’ with code documentation.

JAXenter: Is there a real-life example of how documentation can help engineering teams that you can share?

Oren Toledano: Practices like remote work and outsourcing operations were escalating even before the pandemic, creating a plethora of documentation and onboarding challenges. Swimm’s impact was clear from the get-go, expediting teams and developers working and onboarding remotely. Some of our design partners massively scaled their teams this year and faced challenges around growing their engineering teams. Using Swimm’s platform helped ease the growing pains as they continued recruiting and onboarding new developers to their codebase.

Here’s what I know: It’s a high price to pay when you don’t have a system in place and a company is trying to scale. Swimm provides a platform to increase knowledge building and management solutions.

JAXenter: Can you explain how Swimm works under the hood?

Oren Toledano: We developed Swimm with a proprietary blend of in-house code and third-party solutions. While I can’t, for obvious reasons, shed too much light on our “under the hood” specifics, I can say that we take a lot of pride in our patented auto-sync feature. It’s completely language-agnostic and can automatically update code snippets and tokens such as a function’s name or a specific value.

JAXenter: What’s the next step for Swimm? What challenges will Swimm tackle next and why?

Oren Toledano: Swimm is committed to building a community, and a new platform, to enable engineering leaders to break down silos and build up teams. While we have already streamlined onboarding processes and enabled Continuous Documentation for maximum productivity, we are committed to speeding up processes for even better results.

Our product is constantly evolving. We release updates every two weeks with improved features for better usability and accelerated development metrics. Many exciting features are coming up, including in the area of helping our users create documentation. Stay tuned for more updates on this front.

SEE ALSO: Remaining Agile When No One Around Knows Your Code

JAXenter: What is the demand for your platform? What kind of response are you getting from developers?

Oren Toledano: With remote and hybrid work becoming the norm since COVID, and teams growing faster helped by practices like outsourcing, the interest in Swimm’s solution is on the rise. Based on the conversation Swimm is having with clients and potential customers trying out our beta, it’s clear that Continous Documentation is becoming a solution that is needed by companies of all sizes and verticals.

Additionally, we are getting a lot of attention on the heels of our recent $27.6M funding round. These are very exciting times at Swimm! Our team knows we’re making a huge difference, and the interest in Swimm’s platform is growing exponentially.

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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