Eventually I found the “~” key and figured out the “enter-key-to-commit” thing, but I certainly missed the simplicity of the old SI “add/remove to cluster” - I'm still not entirely sure what the tilde key really does or if there's a gui equivalent to it, although I did see what command that hotkey maps to…
Give a “~” key (or backtick `) a little time, it's nice tool but take a a little time to get used to it.
I'm also used to right click menu option to change cluster selection when you select new components and then deside what to do. Tilde works just in oposite order. First you deside to change selection (hit ~) than you select new components and confirm.
And while I know that a group can be generated by any operator, and that it's maybe not as simple as putting in a or icon in the active toolbar, I'm pretty sure there's gotta be a good design solution for that somehow
It shouldn't be that hard to create a shelf script for that.
In general, I think the component selection tools themselves could also benefit from some love… the tools I've missed are “select parallel edge loop”, “select border components” (it's there, but maybe broken for prims in 13.0.314?), “select border edges” (like open mesh edges, the kind you'd want to cap in order to close off a mesh), and while the existing edge loop tool “works” it's still a little funky sometimes.
For loop/ring selection there is tool on orbolt (not 100% sure about that)
For border components you need 2 groups, in first select components in viewport. In second one with same name and Entity: Edges you had to uncheck Enable on Number tab and check Enable and Unshared Edges on Edges tab and change Merge Operation to Intersect with existing.
What Houdini needs in viewport component interaction are (Custom) Selection Filters like in the XSI.
In SI proportional modeling was a big, huge timesaver. and while softPeak and softTransform are really nice, it would be even slicker if I could then drop down a weightmap and paint the effect back down without leaving the 3d viewport (is there an existing way to do this without doing it manually?).
I don't know if there is build in way but you can always build your own simple HDA tool that combines softTransform, Paint and some blend (VopSop/Wrangler). It's very easy.
Another minor annoyance is (transient) windows getting lost underneath the main viewport window. So if I'm browsing for a SOP path in a parameter field or doing that “edit parameter interface” thing and I make an errant click somewhere, then I have to go looking for the window I just opened which is now lost beneath the main UI. Anyway it would be nice if windows with “accept” or “cancel” just stayed on top until I was done (like the help window).
Actually that's nice thing that all windows aren't modal. You can work with that windows in behind and when you need it bring it into foreground. So you will not get your workspace cluttered. I really like that some windows aren't modal and I can make changes instead of being forced to click Ok/Cancle and reopen that windows later.
Oh and passthrough (or “dot” like in Nuke) nodes would really help with node graph legibility and accidents when “drop on a wire” is active (which I like, but is really dangerous for big crazy graphs). Really miss those passthroughs…
There is Null node that work same, just passing data. It's bigger than Nuke dot node, but on other side, consistency is plus.
And yes, I did build an OTL to construct them manually… although given a choice I would be very happy to be able to throw that away. Less junk, you know?
Actually it's more junk but just under the carpet. Heavier scene, slower processing. I think it's big plus to be able to put in only what you really need. Offten there is no need for orthogonal frame on the curves and so on for other tools. It's nice to have the power to be so close to the metal.
It's nice from start to have everything-can-do tools but in the end you want speed in the scene and it's nice to have option to remove something, or even not to add it in the first place.
For example fluid solvers. It's nice to have pyrosolver, but if you need just some basic smoke and you need it fast and iterate quickly on versions it's better to keep just necessary functionality (like smoke solver). You get better memory management, solving speed and you have more time to be creative.
If you got blackbox that does all the stuff like fire, fluid, smoke and create bunch of data just in the case it doesn't help and you eventually hit the hardware roof sooner.
I think it's better to have the possibility to build own tools exactly to workflow that you need then use all-can-do tools that you cannot strip down to be faster.