For me the point cloud support in Rhino 6 is a great start and as others have said it could be improved dramatically by implementing some of the features of the now deceased pointools4rhino. In fact what I’m about to suggest is improvements to some of those features.
The current import options dialog for text formatted point clouds (i.e. xyz) is pretty poor. Take a leaf out of Pointools/ReCap’s book and display a preview of the 1st 50 or so lines, auto detecting what the delimiter is and what the fields are (typically xyz files are xyzirgb). Allow these to be changed and allow the ranges to be adjusted for RGB and intensity values. This is because some software and some formats have different ranges. For example Leica’s PTS has an intensity range of -2047 to +2048 whereas xyz typically uses 0 to 1.
ASCII and E57 is a good start but additional import formats would be next up. LAS is an obvious missing common format. Another ASCII format from Leica called PTX would be good as this retains the scanner information and can be used to estimate normals (ideally this would have an option to save a point cloud object per scan). Ideally you could sort out some deal with Autodesk and Bentley to read their formats, but I doubt that’s possible. Some other potential formats are Faro’s and Z&F’s both of which are used in many software packages now.
Additionally I’d like to see a simple sampling feature on import. This can be as simple as retaining x% of points radomly, or as complex as spatial sampling at a specified distance.
Pointools has several options for how the point cloud will be coloured that would be nice to see in R6. WIP seems to support only RGB. But it should at minimum aslo support intensity, with various ramps such as hue and greyscale as per pointools. In pointools these could be adjusted in real time with contrast and brightness sliders that would allow me to pick out details you might not otherwise see. It also includes planar shading, where the points are coloured based on distance in the normal direction to a specified plane.
Autoderk’s ReCap (and some other software I’ve used) converts the intensity values to RGB values on import/conversion. This is done I believe because Revit etc has decent support for RGB but not much else. It would be much better to retain the intensity and just colour it as Pointools does.
Pointools also supported multiple simultaneous shade modes. This meant I could display the RGB, instensity and even planar shading all at once. Most software doesn’t allow this, but it is incredibly useful especially when using planar shading, as you could still have greyscale intensity shading to allow you to see features in the data - see the image below to see what I mean.
Pointools also had an incredibly useful button to copy the current viewport display settings to every viewport.
The way I model from point clouds most often is using sections / thin slices of point cloud data. Pointools allows for changing the thickness of this section to any value I see fit, and the points can be displayed in white or using any shade mode. I would like Rhino to support this but in addition allow me to choose a display colour.
Personally I quite like 1 of the ways Pointools defined the section: using the perpendicular direction of a curve. So if for example I wanted a horizontal section (say for a floor plan) I could draw a vertical line. Pointools then allowed me to define a step distance along the line and to move my current section view incrementally at that step distance, adjusting the CPlane accordingly. Its also worth noting that as it sets the CPlane I can use the project snap mode to snap to the plane regardless of where the actual point is in my section thickness.
In Bentley’s Descartes in Microstation they’ve taken this a bit further. So say you want to draw a profile of an object at multiple intervals to create a lofted surface. In Descartes you can set up the section/step and draw the 1st profile, then when you jump to the next step it copies your profile to the next location, hides the previous 1 and allows you edit it as necessary. You can do this as many times as need and when done it builds the lofted surface automatically.
Additionally I think the point cloud section should cut the NURBS (or mesh) model and make the cut plane edges available for use. Using pointools I frequently setup a section, draw a planar surface and then intersect this with my model just to get the edge features at the section location to snap to when continuing my drawing / modelling. Ansys SpaceClaim does a good job of cutting models and making the cut-plane geometry available for use.