I'd like to validate the following sentiment that dawned at me.
Wireframes and prototypes suggest primarily that the design solutions are
presented visually, annotated with callouts or footnotes at the sidebar.
However, the same thing can be also presented in form of documentation (text
or spreadsheet). Moreover, during certain phases of
wireframing/prototyping, it is often more desirable to abstract from the
visual layouts and rather to work with the documentation.
My idea is that the wireframing/prototyping tool should allow the designer
to work with the both views (visual and documental) simultaneously or
interchangeably, when either is more appropriate. While the both views share
the same data source, i.e. the changes made to the wireframe are reflected
in the documentation, and vice versa.
The existing tools used for wireframing and prototyping seem to
underestimate the frequent need for annotating and documenting design
elements. If you need to annotate something, you a) draw your footnote or
callout as a yet another graphic object, and maintain its connection to the
annotated object manually, because the tool does not "understand" it is an
annotation or b) select the element to be annotated and enter plain text
somewhere far in the sidebar "Properties" panel, and then lose it out of
sight when you select something else. Both approaches become clunky when you
need to create different layers of annotations for different audiences,
which is a common task.
Afterwards, the existing tools can usually spit out a functional spec in
Word or PDF that is rather a formal red-tape "deliverable". Or if you are
not satisfied, you can go to a word processor or a spreadsheet and write the
documentation manually (and I often do), but then it will not be connected
to the wireframe/prototype anyhow but in your mind, so you have to maintain
them in sync manually as well. Besides, you find yourself dealing with many
documents and tools instead of one.
Am I on the right track? What are your hardest challenges of documenting
design? Have I overlooked something?