The parameter manager, though certainly good on a very small basic level, can quickly become a nightmare if you're using more than 30~50 parameters. I propose that the entire manager is overhauled to allow for easy parameter group creation / parameter repositions (drag and drop to higher / lower levels in list) / AND parameter color labeling. I will explain each one of these three focal points before moving on to the second aspect of this suggestion (Parameter Access) to better define the goal.
Easy Parameter Group Creation : About what it sounds. There needs to be a way for me to organize things in groups for when I'm concentrating on different tasks for my assembly. Simply having everything thrown into User Parameters isn't good enough. Even though selecting things as being key or non-key is helpful in filtering out some of the mess, you will quickly become overwhelmed when creating 100+ parameters. Though you can create parameter groups from the API, it should be accessible from your parameter manager! This moves us into my second topic:
Parameter Re-Positions: Once you create a parameter, that's where it stays! Because there is no way to keep things properly organized as is, I typically find myself doing large chunks of parameters so that I can quickly know where they are at in my user parameters list. This of course goes out the window if there is something that you want / need to add later on, as it could end up being miles away in the same list. Your only option is to sort by name (if you had the forethought to name things in a systematic way), which is fine, but then repositions the relativity of everything else in the list meaning that your other groups are suddenly broken up... This is not an elegant way of doing things. Allowing the repositioning of elements in the parameter list would make life a lot easier. This should also apply to the reordering of custom parameter groups on an independent basis! While we're speaking of keeping things organized...
Color Labeling: Assuming that you keep the basic way of handling parameters around, it means that all new parameters (though no able to be easily placed into groups and repositioned) will still get added to the master list of User Parameters. That is fine, but leaves absolutely no way for the user to see (at a glance) where things are being used. This is where color labeling could really shine. Essentially there is a new column added that shows the current color label of the parameter's row. This label is determined by the color label of group that the parameter is a member of. In this way you can see not only where an individual parameter is being used, but also where (in your list of groups / parameters) your actual groups are when scrolling in the list at a glance.
Parameters : A,B,C,D have been created. A & B are both added to the group Upper_Group, while B,C,D have been added to the group Lower_Group. Upper_Group gets labeled as Red, and Lower_Group gets labeled as Blue. In the user parameters list, in the color label box next to the parameter you would see the colors as follows. For parameter A, it would be totally red. For B it would be evenly split between both red and blue. For C and D, it would be colored in as totally blue.
Perhaps not the most elegant way, but having words labels showing just didn't seem to solve the problem but only added more words for your to read before getting the information you truly wanted.
This brings us to the second part of our wonderful talk about Inventor parameters.
As of now certain parameters are hidden from the user. If you draw a sketch on a Drawing sheet, you any dimensions that are placed there are practically hidden out of view from the user. Recently on the blog Being Inventive, they (with the help of Brian E.) published a means of accessing those dimensions using what is essentially an iLogic patch. This is, once again, a very non-elegant way of doing something that should be rather simple. Even if every new sketch / draft view parameters set is stored in its own separate group inside of the main drawing's parameter manager, it would be far better than the current situation. Allowing a person to interact with the parametric aspects of sketches + 2D reps of their model will help add another level of technical bliss to drawings (and perhaps even drawing automation) that can't easily be achieved with the current set of tools.
Thank any of your that take the time to read through this, and I hope that together we can all better shape this wonderful tool that we are using here.
(if not then I suppose I'll just have to start working on a new plugin darn it!)