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I think it would be good if the Context View would always show the output of a selected task. So if you select a rendered task on a ROP, you would see the output picture. If you select a Geometry SOP task you see a 3D view of that geometry, etc.
I think that would be a really powerful and intuitive way to handle previews of the PDG network.

What do you think?
I think this makes a lot of sense, as the manager of processes, diagnozing should be a absolute key feature for pdg. Unfortunately Houdini isn't capable of previewing all the data so I think it should be handled with care, it will be very frustrating accidentally opening Maya by clicking the wrong button for example. I can see a place for a generalized framework like a “preview event signal” for tasks and a (good) pref management to bind formats to viewers. Maybe this binding should be on the RMB menu for tasks, greyed out when there is no valid previewer for the data/attribute? And what to do with tasks/partitions that contains multiple files? one menu item per valid preview binding?
Thanks for the feedback! Yes, we need a better way of doing previews other than dropping down a file sop and then pointing it to @pdg_output (which is causing some confusion unfortunately for people to understand when to use @pdg_input and when to use @pdg_output - basically @pdg_output should only be used for previews). We are thinking about how to approach a more holistic preview framework, so this feedback definitely helps.
This crosses into the territory we commonly see with deadline/tractor/custom scheduler viewing apps: you're left to configure “handlers” for the various outputs, which are most often based on file extension – not very unlike the Preview functions on a file requestor dialog. You may also want to support drag'n'drop from this browser to network panes to create File nodes to read them. Perhaps any work in this area could be applied in multiple places?
Also, when you click on “View Task Output”,there is this behavior to bring up a separate window of mplay or gplay (or whatever). You should just have mplay/gplay build into the Context View and open an existing Context View tab. And if one is not available, it should open a new one.

I don't know, about other people, but I never want to have popup windows of random viewers pop up, if it can be avoided. I understand you might want to open up a bunch of windows and put them next to each other for comparison. So I guess it should still be an option.

So I think you need to have both: Simple preview when you just click on the task as well as the ability to open one or more pop-up windows. I would suggest that normal (left-)click on the task opens it in the context view, and shift (left-)click (or via right-click menu) opens a pop-up window.
Agreed that whatever preview scheme we come up with should be holistic and apply potentially to Houdini as well.
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