> bug report covers improvements to the F&S dialog that would compliment the changes to the gradient tool.

Yes there are 2 seperate bug reports (this discussion is mostly focused on 1. below)
1. Changes to the Gradient toolbar (and retiring the Gradient editor)  https://bugs.launchpad.net/inkscape/+bug/950677
2. Changes to the Gradient selection/management in the F&S dialog https://bugs.launchpad.net/inkscape/+bug/722017