What is the best way to create and maintain site specific custom Themes?
I have been hand modifying the Default or other themes for about five years - copy the theme to a new folder, change the name in Style.css and then go to work commenting the heck out of everything. I'm looking for a better way if there is one as the above inevitably leads to a reckoning day where you've waited and waited and then you can't wait anymore and you have to "upgrade".
I'm currently trying Thematic on two sites and have learned that it uses Smarty. Today out of frustration I Googled "Smarty s*cks" and got the following link which sums up my take pretty well - Smarty fails miserably at separating design from code and once I get a Theme looking and functioning as I like I'm just as tied to that theme version or WP version as ever, except with 20 times the work and complexity: http://blog.ericfilson.com/2009/12/smarty-templates-get-that-shit-out-of-my-house/comment-page-1/