Major progress has recently been achieved in the understanding of the coma morphology of dust comets. The conceptual models for the various types of feature observed in the coma (jets, spirals, halos, fans, etc.), their computer simulation, and the hydrodynamic models for jet formation are critically reviewed, and evidence for anisotropic, strongly collimated flows of ejecta emanating from discrete active regions (vents) on the rotating cometary nuclei is presented. The techniques employed to generate synthetic comet images that simulate the observed features are described and their relevance to the primary objectives of coma-morphology studies is exemplified. Modelling of temporal variations in the water emission from discrete active regions suggests that production curves asymmetric with respect to perihelion should be commonplace. Critical comparisons are offered with the activity profiles of Encke’s comet and with light curves of disappearing comets and comets that undergo outbursts. Discussed next is the potential evolutionary significance of nuclear shape, the fractional area of the surface that is active, the vents’ erosion rate, and available information on their activation, aging, dormancy, migration, rejuvenation, and extinction. Recent developments in the understanding of the processes that cause the nongravitational perturbations of cometary motions are reviewed and the observed discontinuities are identified with birth of new sources and/or deactivation of old vents.