Mintlify taps AI to automatically generate documentation from code

·3-min read

Mintlify, a startup developing software to automate software documentation tasks, today announced that it raised $2.8 million in a seed round led by by Bain Capital Ventures with participation from TwentyTwo Ventures and Quinn Slack, Sourcegraph’s co-founder. CEO Han Wang says that the proceeds will be put toward product development and doubling Mintlify's core three-person team by the end of the year.

Ithaca, New York-based Mintlify was co-founded in 2021 by Han Wang and Hahnbee Lee -- both software engineers by trade. Wang previously co-launched Foodful, a startup that developed a cloud-based monitoring system for cows, and Pe•ple, an online customer community platform that was acquired by Tribe in early 2021. Lee was a co-founder at Pe•ple before briefly joining Duolingo as an engineer.

Wang said the idea for Mintlify came from his and Lee's experiences in software development, which involved working with documentation that wasn't always complete or of the highest quality. Their observations agree with a 2017 GitHub survey, which found that 93% of developers consider incomplete or outdated documentation to be a pervasive problem.

"We’ve worked as software engineers at companies in all stages ranging from startups to Big Tech and found that they all suffer from bad documentation, if it even existed at all," Wang told TechCrunch in an email interview. "Documentation is the lifeline for junior engineers and those jumping into new codebases. It helps senior devs save time from explaining their code to others in the future. For public-facing and open source products, documentation has a direct impact on user adoption."

Mintlify
Mintlify

Image Credits: Mintlify

Mintlify aims to address the challenges around documentation with automation, specifically auto-generating documentation. The company's platform reads code and creates docs to explain it, leveraging technologies including natural language processing and web scraping.

Wang declined to reveal more about Mintlify's technical underpinnings, but generating documentation from code is well within the realm of possibility with today's AI techniques. That's evidenced by the fact that Mintlify has several competitors taking similar approaches, including Documatic, whose AI system automatically generates change logs and explanations from code in addition to documentation.

Wang asserts that Mintlify provides "significantly" higher quality results than its rivals, and -- unlike some -- doesn't force developers to host documentation on a cloud service. "Mintlify’s mission is to solve documentation rot by developing continuous documentation into a standard practice for software teams," Wang added. "[W]hen engineering managers are actively seeking solutions for better documentation practices … that’s when we step in."

Beyond generating documentation, Mintlify routinely scans for "stale" documentation and detects how users engage with the documentation to improve its readability. (Wang emphasized that the platform doesn't store code and encrypts all user data at rest and in transit.) Mintlify, which is free for individual developers, also integrates with existing systems including Slack, Dropbox and GitHub for automating task management and development workflows.

According to Wang, adoption of Mintlify's free plan has been growing 20% every week since its January launch. With the user base now eclipsing 6,000 active accounts, the company plans to shift its focus to a premium offering oriented toward enterprise customers.

"The pandemic standardized a decentralized and asynchronous work environment. This made high-quality documentation critical to achieving efficient communication, onboarding and product development," Wang said. "Our expansion into workflow automations is addressing the challenge by targeting the engineering managers with our existing fanbase serving as champions."

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