At BuddyCamp Miami 2014, I learned about BuddyPress and what it’s capable of. During the first session, I learned you don’t have to worry about BuddyPress themes anymore since 1.7 introduced theme compatibility. This means that BuddyPress sites no longer require a BuddyPress-specific theme.
Later in the day, there was a session devoted to BuddyPress Theme Do’s and Don’ts by Tammie Lister. Considering BuddyPress no longer needs specific themes, I was confused and frustrated by the session.
BuddyPress Themes Are WordPress Themes
Since BuddyPress is a plugin, it needs WordPress in order to function. It has elements that are supported by default in most WordPress themes. Since BuddyPress is not its own entity, neither are BuddyPress themes. BuddyPress themes are just WordPress themes with built in support for the style elements.
So if I install a BuddyPress theme into WordPress, I’m actually installing a WordPress theme. Perhaps it’s semantics but they are important to me for understanding how things work. The same could be said for bbPress which is also a plugin that has style elements that are supported by WordPress themes.
BuddyPress and bbPress Themes Don’t Exist
After speaking with a few attendees that were at both sessions, they understood my confusion and frustration. I’ve concluded that bbPress and BuddyPress themes don’t exist. They are WordPress themes, some with better support for bbPress and BuddyPress elements than others.
Also note that BuddyPress.org no longer has a theme directory. Instead, you’re instructed to look for BuddyPress compatible themes on the WordPress theme directory. This is why it’s important for theme authors to specifically state whether their WordPress themes support BuddyPress and bbPress.
If you think I’m wrong in my assessment, I invite you to explain why in the comments below.