Just pitching in here.
Re: exposing inputs/outputs.
We’re trying to strike a balance between compactness, readbility and usability. We’re biasing towards compactness, at the cost of (generally) one extra click for a connection. The idea being that encourageing compactness and orderliness of graphs will lead to more sharing / reuse, and (on average) more readable/maintainable graphs.
Grasshopper, and VFX node graphs are more targeted at single-user use. Graphs in those applications are generally sprawling and fairly unshareable. Also, any time saved by one less click here and there is lost panning
Exposing in/outputs on all nodes all the time also affects performance and causes unnecessary visual clutter. Compromises are possible, and some of the solutions you’ve raised here are valid.
We’d like the community know that this is a constant topic of discussion for us (including some of the very specific solutions proposed in the thread). Our group here has extensive experience with other visual graphs, like Grasshopper, Dynamo, but also a slew of VFX tools, like Nuke, Houdini, Maya hypergraph etc. We’d like you to know we’re not operating in a design vacuum, from scratch. We’re standing on shoulders of giants.
Yet we also have quite different goals than existing solutions. There are other vectors to developing a graph than just straight usability, some tied to our specific goals for Trimble, and we’d be silly just copying existing paradigms to the letter. We’re sticking our neck out a bit.
Growing adoption in our specific context is our goal, and that means some level of usability can be sacrificed to other motives, like maintainability and shareability for example, which a lot of the other graphs mentioned are not really focusing on. Ideally not, but in practice these things are not fully orthogonal.
Note that we’re not done here at all. As an example you noted above, node grouping (or rather ‘framing’) plays into our maintainability/readability, and is on our near term roadmap.
As Keith said, we’re keeping a keen eye on this forum, and every comment here puts a bit of weigth in one scale or another.
Keep it going!