I had a long talk with theeth about this and I still failed to show him why I am serious about this. So maybe someone else.
A texture baker is a simple behind the scenes tool that just does it’s thing. The thing it does is show a preview of a texture shader on a mesh. The preview does not take in radio or raytracing it just shows a fast image in the 3d view. The current shader preview in the material view window is just this, but it shows nothing of what will truly be on a mesh at all until you try a pre render.
Now a pre-render is the best way to truly see this image effect on the mesh, it is a boring waiting game. A typical pre-render without any fancy lighting and OSA turned off at a basic size image that is easy to see will take about a second or two per render depending on the size of the mesh. To quote theeth “boohoo”. Yes boohoo, but it is time and it is time off of work towards the prefect texture. And this does not even take into account an animation test. To add to this if you have to constantly tweak the settings and continue pre-renders it will add up time very very fast.
So the answer to this is how can we get the texture onto the mesh as an image. In the 3d view with potato texture mode a mesh that is uv mapped is viewable in realtime to rotate and transform the mesh however you like and the speed is unbelievable in how fast it renders a mesh as it is just realtime with a texture image applied to it.
I know of the ways to UV unwrap a mesh and render a texture then reapply it to the mesh as a Uv texture. But this is a slow process and is in contradiction to tweaking, each and every tweak will take time to render and save and open.
Also there is the method of applying vertex colors, but this will take a lot of mesh to show up the image at a reasonable detail to get anything from it. While a uv map can be applied onto a low poly cube and still have a great amount of detail to see.
So lets cut to the chase. Texture baking is needed badly. It will increase shader preview speed. I have asked the python scripters a lot for this but it seems no one can figure it out yet, though I would think it could be a better item in python script. Though C is faster.
It would also be great for the GameEngine. Anyone hate the idea of making Blender faster?