Re: WordPress theme vs BuddyPress theme
Hi, we always create a child theme derived from the BuddyPress default theme (we are on our 5th commercial BP project at the moment).
We customise heavily, change an awful lot of the CSS, and tear our hair out at the masses of unnecessary divs and classes. But, on the other hand it does give us a huge head start – BuddyPress needs a lot of template files and loops that aren’t in standard WordPress themes.
If you are happy with the default structures and functionality, you can get a long way quickly with this approach. Styling the layouts to your needs.
If you want to add new functionality, seriously enhance the loops, and so on – you are in for a bigger challenge – it’s not as easy as WordPress theming, you quickly end up in hooks, filters and plugins (which you can usually avoid in standard WP theming), and a fairly restricted API (which is due to get better, and better documented). The joys of building on the sands of a still relatively early stage project.
Good luck – I’m sure you’ll create a great site.
p.s. setting up a child theme is straightforward – a few lines in your style.css. We typically mimic the folder structure of the default theme, copy over just the files we are specialising (most of them!), and work from there. Only strange thing is functions.php – a functions.php in your child theme doesn’t override the one in the parent theme, both are used.
p.p.s. I can’t comment on the theme pack plugin… I haven’t used it