I’m looking at taking it in a slightly different direction than its previous incarnation as a mesh modifier. First, have a look at this demonstration video. (I know, you are all wowed by the amazing modeling going on there…)
As you can see, the skinning tools are now sitting on top of the armature object rather than the mesh object. The armature skin can be displayed while in edit mode on the armature, then converted to a real mesh object when ready. The new mesh object automatically gets vertex weight groups and an armature modifier assigned, so switching to pose mode on the original armature allows you to immediately pose the mesh.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using the armature edit mode vs. mesh edit mode. One difference is that your topology is now restricted to a tree rather than an arbitrary graph. (In other words, you can’t have a ring or loop anymore.) On the plus side, you can now use bone roll to control the orientation of skin frames and you get automatic posing. On the minus side, the modeling tools are more limited (until you convert to a mesh, of course.)
I’ve pushed a branch with the new code to github: https://github.com/nicholasbishop/blender-bishop/tree/armature-skin
I’d like to get feedback about these changes. Are these tools even useful? Is this a good direction to go in? What do you find incredibly annoying about these tools? Etc.
Update: thanks for posting builds!