Yup totally agree on the visual graph not always being better. I used artomatix as well and while it was good, I did find myself wanting something more akin to afp and patch tools. I just wish there was a way to height blend the patches. Currently I use the feather and border search method to breakup the patch edges
Some type of hybrid would be really cool. Maybe something as simple as being able to add a layer that does a series of processes that is non destructive and procedural. In a sense it's not much different from a filter stack or a series of image adjustments. If anything it would make it a bit more stream lined.
Further more within each "procedural" layer you could add another image or af file that serves as another input.
I agree with you though. Maybe rather than a node based attack, other things would be better and more universal. I think I might start a new thread for this but on thinking about it top things would probably be
Multiple channel support a la substance painter ( useful for things other than cg)
3d viewport for visualization
Integration of Embarks texture synthesis running in 16bit (which works amazing btw. Just not in 16 bits)