I am going to finish this first series with a look at the third part of Modular Tool Design: The Micro Tool.
As I build the single and multi-use tools, I invariably stumble on parts of the process that can be easily consolidated into small reusable tools. Other times I will plan things out and build the small parts first. Either way, I am always looking at what can be simplified or what tasks are repetitive. In the video, I show this with the pSurf SOP.
Micro Tools Built In Houdini Master
While Houdini Escape can be used to build some tool types, Micro Tools are best created in Houdini Master where there are no restrictions as to what network type is used. Any type of tool is fair game and some of these tools will be usable in Houdini Escape later. If I need to wrap up some POPs or DOPs there is no restriction.
I also build these micro tools to be used by other tool designers or TD's. I also try to implement these tools to behave the same way as default Houdini tools with similar parameter names if applicable.
Micro Tools Not Designed for Novices
Using these micro tools does require a fairly good knowledge of the particular network type that the tool is to be used in. This puts it out of the hands of many novice and some intermediate Houdini users.
In the video, I demonstrate how to build up a generic particle system but incorporate the pSurf SOP which is a small but important part of the pSurf object tool. It does only one thing and does it very well: It takes any input geometry like another SOP, uses groups if so defined, and adds the appropriate attributes to support the majority of particle systems. In many ways it is also a teaching tool for intermediate users. It shows the user what I believe are valid and important attributes to inherit into a particle system. If the user wishes to modify it by removing some attributes later on or literally taking ownership and redefining the tool, then that is all possible. You may break other tools that embed this tool but that is part of the game with assets in Houdini.