I've decided that today's skinning community is dying.
It can be argued that our veteran talent has been either been bought out by Stardock or left the game. Or that perhaps our new talent is a little too new. Regardless of these views, I think statistically today's quality of themes have degraded and I believe I may have an understanding as to why; Windows Vista.
Since Windows Vista has been released, we've seen quite a shockwave throughout the skins and themes community. This is both good, and bad. It is good, because developers can now foresee a new age of design for skins and themes, both aesthetically and that Windows Vista provides a new shell for designers. However, Windows Vista can cause some confusion for visual style developers, and perhaps it is because Stardock thought it would be innovative to create an entirely new development tool for their WindowBlinds software.
I believe it was an excellent effort for Stardock to get right on the Windows Vista wagon by having their WindowBlinds and SkinStudio prepared for Windows Vista. However, I don't think it was such a good idea to redesign the SkinStudio tool from the ground up. In fact, I think it was a ridiculous idea.
This point can be argued to the bone, and no doubt Stardock developers would have plenty to say as to why SkinStudio 6 is greater than classic. But in retrospect, creating a new tool for the new application sends the veteran developers back to square one. Every time I open SkinStudio 6, I am overwhelmed with the changes, and instead of placing effort into my design, I'm more concerned about whether clicking this new and strange button in SkinStudio 6 will explode my megahertz.
At this stage if I can still be bothered, I create my skins in SkinStudio Classic to the furthest extent. And then I add any Vista features with SkinStudio 6, somehow. It's impractical and a lot of work. I tend to believe that someone in the Stardock development team thought it'd be super-cool to redesign the SkinStudio interface to meet the "Stardock 2008" standard. Without much consideration for the idea, it has single handedly blown the whole development community out of the water.