As promised the skin modifier has returned. I’m overall pleased with our detour into armature-land, I think we all have a much clearer idea of what the direction of the tools should be.
Coming at this problem from the other side now, I’ve added an operator to convert the mesh structure into an armature and generate the appropriate vertex groups. You can then add an armature modifier and pose the skinned mesh.
The code is available on github in my skin-modifier branch, fresh builds welcome.