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The tool palette is a side bar in the network editor that lists all of the shelf tools and gallery entries that are relevant in the current network type.
The tool palette can display only tools, only gallery entries, or both. By default it displays both, but this can be configures in the Contents menu by clicking the gear menu and choosing either Both Tools and Galleries, Only Tools, or Only Galleries.
The shelf tools and gallery entries are shown as leaves of a tree whose branches are the categories to which the tool or the entry belong. You can see these categories in the tool/gallery editors by clicking RMB on the leaf representing the tool/gallery entry, and choosing Edit. In the gallery entry editor, look for the Categories field, and in the shelf tool editor, look for the TAB Submenu Path on the Context tab.
Gallery entries allow only a single level of category tree branch, whereas the shelf tools can specify nested branches separated by a slash '/'. Although, usually the tools specify only one level.
Opening and closing the tool palette
There are several ways you can open/close the tool palette. You can use any of the following methods.
Click the Show/Hide tool palette controls button.
Click the gear menu in the network editor, then choose Viewing Controls and enable or disable the Show Tool Palette option.
Similarly, you can click RMB in in the network editor, then choose Viewing Controls and enable or disable the Show Tool Palette option.
neteditorhscript command with -k and -K option.
Creating new gallery/tool categories
Houdini builds the tree branches based on the categories of the gallery entries and shelf tools. This means that there are no empty branches since all branches are specified by tools and galleries. However, you can create a new empty category.
Click on the gear menu and selecting either New Gallery Category or New Tool Category.
Enter a name for the new category in the dialog box. After accepting, this category will show up in the tree.
Drag node (or other entity) and drop it into the newly created category.
If you edit a gallery entry or a tool and you add a new category in the editor, Houdini will create that branch automatically and the brach will contain the entry or the tool.
Dragging a node and dropping it onto the category creates a new gallery entry or a new tool. When the new gallery entry is instantiated or the tool is invoked, they will recreate an exact copy of the dropped node. You can select several nodes and drop them on the palette. This will either create a single shelf tool that builds all selected nodes, or it will create several gallery entries, one for each dropped node.
The main purpose of the tool palette is to provide a way of creating nodes much like the tab menu does. Gallery entries represent operator nodes with specific values of the parameters (and their contents, if they are subnets), and the shelf tools are scripts that instantiate nodes and set their parameters. The end effect for both galleries and shelf tools is an instantiated node or nodes.
The tool palette provides a few ways to narrow down the number of gallery entries and shelf tools in the tree. A simple way to search is to use the Filter field at the bottom of the tree to search for the items that match a specific pattern.
You can also search and instantiate nodes in the tool palette using the type-ahead search. You can enable or disable it in the gear menu by toggling the Type-Ahead Search checkbox. When it is enabled, the tree hotkeys are disabled and a quick search is performed you type each letter.
The mouse must be over the tool palette for the type-ahead to work.
Once you type a few letters in the type-ahead mode and the entry you are looking for is selected and highlighted, you can press Enter to instantiate it. This will create the node and will reset the type-ahead search string. You can also use arrows to navigate the type-ahead search results or double-click the entries to select them. Pressing ⎋ Esc clears the type-ahead string.
Another way to search is by using the menu in the upper toolbar that lists keywords. Gallery entries and shelf tools subscribe to a category using keywords found in their editors.
After selecting an entry in the keyword menu, only entities that match the keyword will show up in the tree. Selecting All in the keywords menu will show all the entities again.