My issues with specifications

I’ve been working with Axure since 2007 and I’ve never figured out a good system for producing quality documentation. I moved away from trying a couple years ago and use it solely to produce prototypes for things like usability testing, demoing interactions, etc. For my wires and annotations, I create everything within InDesign. Every now and then, I wonder how I can use Axure as the all-in-one tool. Here are issues I’ve run into:

  1. Poor Word Output Quality: In general, my group uses the wires-on-the-left/annotations-on-the-right style of documentation which shrinks down the available width for the wire. Using a vector-friendly tool like InDesign and outputting to PDF basically allows for clarity across all zoom levels.
  2. Layout Flexibility: Sometimes I need the ability to layout wires and annotations according to design needs. This includes being able to move the footnote, using arrows to point out objects on the UI, placing all wires for a specific item within one page, etc.
  3. Faking interactions: I find that making things work in the prototype will sometimes require fake or extraneous interactions. Those appear in the specifications and I have to spend time removing them.

Any thoughts on these?


I’ve thought about actually building a dynamic column into my prototype to contain the annotations. The content would change based on the page or actions.


This is a great topic and hope that the Axure team enhances the specification generator to be more customizable in future releases. I’m in your same situation where I’ll create interactive prototypes in Axure but for wireframing I’ll use OmniGraffle. I want full control over the documentation produced. The specification document that Axure generates isn’t very pretty and for presentational purposes just doesn’t cut it.

Here’s what I’m thinking. When the spec generator was created it was designed to produce documentation for business analysts and software engineers, not for presentations. I’d like to see the Axure team advance the software in this area by allowing more control over the output and the template. For example, I could create a new template that is 17x11 and input special Axure tags where I want content to be inserted. A single page can have many tags and can even include conditional logic to show/hide content.

I’d like to see more people join in on this conversation because there are so many more layers to peel back.


One thing I would like to add to this list is the ability to display Dynamic Panels in context of their page. Displaying each panel broken out on its own doesn’t help communicate where it belongs on the page.


the project I’m on has just made the decision to move away from Axure for page level UI Specs, for very similar reasons you’ve outlined.

If there was an ability to map drawing board components to specific annotations groups and only those were rendered in the output, that would be handy. Maybe we were trying to collect too much information in our annotations. It seems that these specs may work for small to medium sized websites, but not for large software projects.


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I’m in the same boat… I’d love for axure to work as an all in one tool but right now the spec portion falls short.

I’ll bet you Axure could get a lot of help if they wanted to open-source or otherwise use their user-base to robustify the spec stuff. We simply can’t use the spec/doc features in Axure and it is the weakest link in their chain. I’d argue that the UX/UI community would find it easier to work with if there was a “spec player” for the prototype.

My idea is that you’d share the prototype with your BA or those responsible for the detailed specs and they would use a special “player” (or some kind of browser plugin) that would allow them to click through the prototype and add comments/specs to whichever UI elements, pages, views, etc needed them.

I’m thinking you’d select whatever you wanted to add specs to (might be a page itself) and then via right-click or some other modifier would be presented a way to add a spec/note/comment to that item. spreadsheet or table view could be used, auto-number and re-number the specs, create custom columns of course, all the usual needs.

Output of annotated views/screens to PDF that this plug-in enables would be needed. All annotations visible (or selected perhaps?) could be exported in a spreadsheet named to correspond to the screenshot. You should also be able to export the entire spec table/spreadsheet.

Lastly, if I could choose a “combined” output with the screen image and associated specs I would want to choose my layout options as mentioned above. Image left/spec right, Image Top/spec below, etc.

I’d rather see Axure focus on alternatives to spec documents and help us push the industry forward.


Agile user-story integration including the ability to hilight everything in the prototype assigned to a story. Imagine starting to design a user story and telling Agile which one. Then everything you create from that point forward gets tagged with that story until you tell it otherwise.

Social collaboration tools between PM and Designer, and Designer and Developer. Ability to mark-up prototypes. I see this as a natural progression of Axshare.

Ability to clearly tag things that are in, or out of scope for the current release or sprint.

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I hope the spec generation feature gets some love and attention.

I am new to Axure. We are looking at buying it for myself and 2 other colleagues. After getting over a significant learning curve initially, I was able to develop a nice little iPhone simulation in a little over 2 weeks. The only negative I’m continually receiving about my product, is the spec. I typically write these beautiful and concise specs, written so anybody from my grandma to my engineers in India can pick them up and understand what it’s all about. With Axure, I was left with a 90 page artifact, that so far, the business sponsors are just complaining about.

Part of the problem is how I constructed my simulation. I was not religious about masters. I have too many dynamic panels I think. These get duplicated in the spec. Even if the DP is only there to accomplish some simple interaction, the spec has 5 pages of redundant information. I played around with the output options. The feature to remove panels and repeaters from the output, I think that needs to be expanded on in some way. When you remove panels, you lose not only the 5 pages of redundant info, but also the 5 lines of what’s different about the DP. If there was a way to say more specifically what you wanted to include/exclude about the panels, that might be useful.

That said, I think the spec generator has a lot of potential. I like the annotations feature. I added some custom fields to include a usage scenario, default values, and a requirements statement with the annotations. The output was nice

I am not sure exactly what I need in the tool, as I’m not an expert yet. I do know that I’d like to tell more of a story on the spec side. Right now, it’s just a static description of various events.

I am not sure exactly how the style sheet mappings work, but the list of available mappings was too short. In my specs, I use all 9 headings, and I have a different set for requirements and use cases. At a minimum, I’ll use 18 styles.

We’re in a similar boat. We’re currently using Axure for the wireframes and then exporting into InDesign to add requirements (which look brilliant, but are a real pain to keep updated when the minor tweaks inevitably are requested). I’m new to the organisation so have spent some time investigating how we can use Axure for both steps but have been really disappointed with the specification generator.

It seems really overly complicated for something that could be quite simple. What I’d like is:
Notes that can be linked to a specific responsive view (not page or widget) and ideally tabulated with custom fields
To be able to enter the Specification document title, synopsis, version etc, into Axure so that whenever I update the spec I don’t need to re-enter this information into the new docx output (does this already exist? I can’t find it), i.e. I want to make all my changes in Axure and output a completed Word doc that requires no amendments except maybe a bit of re-pagination if required
A booklet layout - the screenshot on one page, a table of annotations on the facing page, to either be printed at standard sizes like A4 or A3
Footnotes that are not cropped off the screenshot if they appear on the edge of the view

As it is may be ok (but only ok) for developers if they have some patience and understanding, but really aren’t good enough to put in front of clients for signing off or as an example of previous work as part of a sales pitch. It would save us days+ per project if we could use Axure for both the wireframes and the requirements.

My thoughts on this, in a separate thread, for they are contentious:

Say no to separate design specs

For the record the axure specification output is not good for business analysts either. We have been using Axure for over 10 years for prototyping and still have to write a separate document.

Yes - I too have struggled - a lot - with Axure’s annotations.

BUT - I have figured out a way to riff of the way markdowns are used in Balsamiq for Axure - and this works for either online views or when generating a set of .pdfs.

As reference, Balsamiq has a markdown toggle keyboard shortcut.

Similarly, I create a blue “Notes” paragraph field at the top right of my wireframes (accessible in prototype) and outside any given page field.
This paragraph field is my toggle.
I place the link 50 px to the right of the page.

10px below this link I create a sticky note - 350px X 350px to start.
It’s important to note that I simply increase the height of this sticky note as necessary, AS I add more notes than the original sticky can handle.
If I don’t need extra height, I leave the size of the sticky alone.

When annotating, I place an individual call-out number on the page that corresponds to the color of the sticky note, then add the same number and corresponding annotation text to the sticky note.
I create as many of these call-out numbers and corresponding sticky note entries as I need.

Note, the annotation sticky actually becomes a sticky “column”, especially when I need to annotate a ton of fields.
All of this works, for the following reason.
If the sticky column and the call-outs are visually distracting, I simply use the “Notes” toggle to hide them.
If I wish to see my notes again, I simply select the toggle again.

An implication of the sticky column is, essentially, that it is infinite.
It can accommodate ALL the annotations you might possibly need.
And I find THAT can be VERY useful with very complex interactions, despite heavy prototyping.
When it’s hand-off time to developers, well, EVERYTHING’S annotated - and easily accessible without being distracting.
If nothing else, months later YOU know what YOU did on the prototype - by referencing the very detailed annotations (without being over-detailed).

I’ve been using the same technique in Sketch as well, for comps.
It’s been working great.
Simply put, I find that annotations are simply not the PITA they used to be.
It just works.

Hi all, thanks for your feedback in this thread on the Axure RP specifications feature over the years! We’re gonna go ahead and close this thread due to the change in forum policy this year as we shifted to a Q&A format. All of the feedback in this thread thus far has been filed with the product team. Please feel free to send additional feedback via email directly to to help ensure that we see it and can file it appropriately within the team. Thank you! :slight_smile: