The Content Lock-In Problem: What Happens With Your Thrive Architect Content if You Delete the Plugin?

Shane Melaugh   149

Today, we're answering questions that we received many times, regarding our upcoming visual editor for WordPress, Thrive Architect.

We learned from our users that many don't use Thrive Content Builder or other visual editors to create their blog content. And this is true even if they prefer the convenience and speed of the visual editor.


Because of looming worries: sure, the visual editor is good now, but will it still be around a few years from now? Will it continue being updated and getting support? What if I can't use it anymore, at some point? What if I have to deactivate this plugin, at some point in the future?

It's a legitimate concern - no one wants to lose their blog content all of a sudden.​

In this post, we look at this issue closely and give you a preview of how our upcoming Thrive Architect editor will handle this.​


The Question(s) of Content Preservation and Lock-In

I believe it's thanks to this post by Chris Lema that the awareness of the content lock-in problem became widespread.

In short, the content lock-in problem is this: if you use a WordPress editor plugin that is based on shortcodes, any content created with it will leave a huge mess of said shortcodes if you ever deactivate the plugin.

Thus, if you use the plugin once, you're "locked in" to using it forever.

From our readers and customers, we heard this concern a lot as well. And for this post, we boiled it down to 3 questions:

  1. What happens if I create blog content with Thrive Architect and then deactivate or delete Thrive Architect at a later date?
  2. ​Can I use Thrive Architect to edit old blog posts that I created using the default WordPress editor?
  3. What happens if I use Thrive Architect to create landing pages (from our landing page templates) and then deactivate the plugin at a later date?

The underlying question in all of this is: will my content be preserved?

We answer all of these questions in the video above and the text below.

Shane in Review Mode...

This should have been a simple post with a preview of Thrive Architect. But as I was working on it, I couldn't help but investigate. As you may know, I used to do (and sometimes still do) very detailed product reviews and comparisons. My inquiring mind took over and I felt compelled to answer another question:

How do other visual editors for WordPress handle this (and how does it compare to Thrive Architect)?

And while I was at it, I also got curious about the content's code efficiency, but more on that later.

Let's get to the questions.

What Happens When You Deactivate Thrive Architect?

Because users asked us for it, we created a comprehensive content preservation system for Thrive Architect.

Here's what happens with your content, when you deactivate the plugin: every type of content that WordPress supports will still be displayed. Everything else will be hidden.

That means:

  • Text and headings remain.
  • Images remain.
  • Lists and styled custom lists remain in the content as lists.
  • Content boxes, columns and other layout elements disappear, but any text or images inside them remain visible on the page.​
  • Buttons turn into text links.
  • There are no shortcodes or artifacts in your content.
  • All of this preserved content is fully editable using the default WordPress editor.

WordPress basically only supports text and images and no layouts beyond a single column. That means: your content will probably look very different after deactivating Thrive Architect, if you've created interesting layouts and used many of our elements. However, the content remains clean and visible.

Although it's also worth noting that Thrive Architect is the only visual editor out of the ones I've tested that doesn't add spaces and side margins, change styles or otherwise modify the layout of the content, compared to the default WordPress editor.​ That means you can create a simple piece of content consisting only of text and images in Thrive Architect and it would be indistinguishable from content created with the WordPress editor.

Can Thrive Architect Edit Content Made in the WordPress Editor?

​Not directly, no. If you load a post with WordPress content in Thrive Architect, you'll see that all of the original content remains. It is placed in a single "WordPress content" container.

You can place any content from Thrive Architect before and after this container.​

You can click on the container and edit the content in an overlay window, using the WordPress editor. That is, of course, a lot less convenient than directly editing on the page, like you can do with Thrive Architect content. If that annoys you, keep in mind: opening a separate window with the WordPress editor is the default and only way to edit content in almost all other visual editors for WordPress...

What Happens With Landing Pages After Deactivating Thrive Architect?

We apply the same content preservation as we do for post and page content. However, because landing pages are made in large part of "special" layout elements, what you see after deactivating the plugin won't resemble the original landing page anymore, at all. Basics like text and links will still be readable and functional, though.

As you can see, we've gone to great lengths to ensure that you never lose your content. Trust me, this is not easy to accomplish. But we fully understand that your content is unique and that it's hard work to create it, so we want to give you that peace of mind, knowing it will always remain.

At this point, I started wondering about a different question:​

So, How Do Other Plugins Handle This?​

You can see the results from a practical test in the video at the top of this post, starting at 04:26.

The results show that Thrive Architect isn't the only plugin that preserves your content. But the results also didn't make me want to switch plugins anytime soon...​

Oh, and in case you're wondering why the plugin mentioned in Chris Lema's post on this topic wasn't included: that plugin doesn't seem to exist anymore.

Which leads me to the next question:

Will You Have to Deactivate Thrive Architect at Some Point?​

For people who read Chris Lema's post and bought the plugin he recommended, I guess it was good fortune that the plugin had a content preservation feature. After all, it seems the developer disappeared and the plugin doesn't exist and isn't supported anymore.

And that's probably where most of this fear about losing content comes from.

To keep your site secure, you have to keep your WordPress version up to date. And if a developer doesn't march in step and keep their plugins compatible with new WordPress versions, compatibility problems will crop up at some point. And then you're forced to remove a plugin, no matter whether you really liked it or not.

There can be no guarantees, but if you ever feel nervous about this happening with Thrive Architect, here's a quick reminder:

  • We've been doing this for longer than most developers. When we first released Thrive Content Builder, there were no real front-end editors for WordPress.
  • Since then, many visual editors for WordPress have come and gone. We're still here and we're still updating our software.
  • We have a stable business model that doesn't include risk factors like a high cost for supporting tons of free users (we have no free users) and includes financial stability from a subscription pricing model (which is optional, but very popular).​
  • We include unlimited updates with our plugin. You don't have to shell out more cash every year, just to get updates and avoid compatibility problems.

What I hope you can see from this is that A) we understand the problem of content lock-in and B) we're on your side, with this. We could make more money by forcing paid updates, but we choose not to do that.

Bonus Question: What Did the Code on Those Test Pages Look Like?

Last question, I promise. Like I said, my inquisitiveness took over and as I was building these pages, I also started digging around in the source code the different plugins were creating.

After recording the video, I made some adjustments to the test pages, so that they all had the exact same content on them. Since not all editors have all the same elements, that meant removing some elements and adding some different ones. I also used the same theme for each plugin, so that the playing field was 100% level.

​There's a lot that can be said about code quality, but I'm not qualified to say most of those things. Instead, let's look at an objective measure.

For the exact same layout with the same content, how many lines of code do different plugins produce?

Here are the results (less is better):​

Elementor: 453
Divi: 448
Beaver Builder: 369
Visual Composer: 323
Thrive Architect: 239
Cornerstone: 231

Yeah, it's pretty annoying that we were beaten out by 8 lines of code... but I'm pretty pleased with the result nonetheless.

Of course, lines of code aren't everything there is to whether code is "clean" or "good", but it can be a very basic indicator of efficiency and page speed.​

Mind at Ease?

Okay, that ends my little quest into content preservation and exploring competing plugins. I hope this put your mind at ease. And if you still have questions, please let us know by leaving a comment!​


P.S.: We'll be publishing a more detailed answer and guide for the question "what happens with TCB content when switching to Thrive Architect?", soon.

by Shane Melaugh  August 8, 2017


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Leave a Comment

  • @shane: This is one of the most objective reviews that I have seen recently. And Thrive Architect does look a much improved solution. So kudos to you and your team for taking it to the next level 🙂

  • Hi, will Thrive Architect integrate with Thrive Ultimatum / will Ultimatum be updated also? If I for example want to make an OTO for 15 minutes… Or if I want to change one button to antoher button when the countdown is finished… will that be possible now? That would be just great!

    • Hi Stanley,

      When you edit a template inside Thrive Ultimatum, it will load up Thrive Architect for the editing. Apart from that, none of the functionality in Thrive Ultimatum will change.

  • I can’t wait! After reading your in depth article, my question is rather superficial: will you include an option for a video background? Maybe more in depth question: do you have plans for an ecommerce specific theme built on woocommerce?

    • Hi Peter,

      Yes, video backgrounds will be included.

      Ecommerce specific theme: we have no plans for that in the near future.

  • Ah, I never thought of this happening because I could never imagine not using this plug-in!

    Side note: I’d love if you published a “road map” page so we could see what features for Thrive Architect are currently being developed, short listed to come next and what features are on your agenda to work on in the future 😀

    Also a bit of a broken record but I really need the “content reveal” element to have an option to automatically be revealed upon the second visit for hidden Add To Cart buttons on video sales pages. Allowing repeat visitors to be able to buy right away instead of wait 10 minutes all over again.

    • Thanks for your comment, Derek! We don’t have a roadmap page, but we’ll be providing some more updates about coming features and products on the blog.

  • Great that you covered this topic Shane. This is main reason I dont use and avoid page builder plugins and themes which come integrated with them.

    Though I only use Thrive Leads I am looking forward to see Thrive Architect in action.

  • Thanks Shane, that’s good to hear.

    Two follow up questions:

    1. If you have content on TCB, edit it with TA then deactivate the plugin, will the content still appear in a normal WP page? Or will it not as it was originally made with TCB?

    2. If you’ve made pages with TCB, will you need to have both TCB and TA as active plugins? Or just TC?

    • Thanks for your questions, Shaun!

      1) Once you edit it with Thrive Architect, the content will be preserved after deactivation.
      2) You will only have Thrive Architect installed and active, for all your pages and content to work.

  • Traditionally I have not written blog posts in Thrive Content Builder because I was worried about this. I also would like to know what the impact of using Architect will be for SEO? I use Yoast but doesn’t seem to work with content added in this way. Should I be concerned?

    • What’s not working in Yoast, when you use it? We use it as well and the Yoast features work together with TCB/Thrive Architect content.

      The impact on SEO is basically nonexistent. There’s nothing the WordPress editor does that is particularly good or bad for SEO. It just creates content. The same can be said for Thrive Architect.

      Although as we’ve found (and as you can read about here), content that is nicely formatted and contains elements like lists, highlight boxes, tables of content etc. tends to do better in terms of rankings, traffic and shares.

      • What I’m guessing Miles is referring to in Yoast is the “traffic-light” (red, green and yellow dots) indicators on content… It’s Yoast’s plugin’s way of visually telling you if your content meets some of their SEO algorithms…

        I noticed this as well in TCB-built content, but it was not a concern, since I find that those SEO algorithms can often become a distraction to me writing what I need to (“customer first” mindset) for teaching and/or communicating…

  • Looking really great Shane, I would like to know will I be able to build a One-page website with parallax effects?

    • You can create a page that has anchor links for the one-page style scrolling. But we don’t have parallax effects, at this point.

  • I’m really looking forward to the new Thrive architect! The one feature I hope it fixes from TCB is the ability to have scripts which are applied site wide recognized by the landing pages created in Architect. Currently in TCB you have to insert scripts manually on each individual page that is created from a template in the builder. This means that I can’t use any of the Facebook retargeting plugins which are built for WordPress to manage the Pixel code site wide. THIS IS A HUGE DEAL! You want to be able to create custom audiences based on the time / scroll depth etc of the users on your site. To have to manage this manually maniplulaing scripts on individual pages is incredibly messy. I know this is a bit technical, but so is what happens if you stop using the plugin. I really want to use Thrive for all my sites, but this is a major issue.

  • See that big difference between Divi and Thrive? That’s why I switched to Thrive, within a month of testing Divi. As for content preservation, I do hope every reader here has the workflow to save all text and visuals for every post OUTSIDE of wordpress – just in case.
    Cheers to the minds at Thrive.

  • You guys continually prove why you are the best in the industry: Transparent, forward-thinking, and conscience about your customers. Thank you for thinking of us!

  • I tried to build a blog with CTB but got stuck not able to add a weekly piece of information. The other issue though I may not have heard properly is CTB users would be automatically updated to Architect. So far CTB only, am I wrong

    • Hello David,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “not able to add a weekly piece of information”. Can you elaborate?

      As for the upgrade: any Thrive Content Builder customer and any Thrive Member will receive Thrive Architect as a free upgrade.

  • We have already had the basic question of how our TCB content becomes Architect content, which it appears will be straightforward. But a more pertinant question would be, if you have an agency license, as we do, is Architect included, when it is released? 😉

  • Great demonstration! So clear! Thank you so much for addressing this issue. I feel much better 🙂

    I’m also looking forward to hearing your responses to a couple of the questions posed here in the comments: site-wide scripts and Yoast SEO.

    Thanks and kudos to you and the Thrive Team!

  • This was the biggest issue for me when it came to using TCB. I am glad to hear that now I don’t have to worry about losing content anymore. I have played with other content builders on your list, but I’d much rather stick with one builder and one learning curve. Plus I trust Thrive as a company. So this is a huge step forward.

  • I’ve had SOOO many folks tell me to jump on the “Divi” bandwagon, I refused, as I knew that TCB would be better eventually! Thanks!

  • Great stuff, guys! Architect compares very favorably to the competitors. Reassuring feeling to know that content is not lost when the plugin is deactivated. Great work!!

    • Thank you for the suggestion, Chris! We don’t have this planned yet, but seeing that we have several font nerds on the team, it’s possible that we’ll add this at some point.

  • Any tips on converting a Divi website to a Thrive Architect/Focus site?

    Also, I really appreciate your pricing model at Thrive Themes.

    • Thanks for your comment, Richard! We don’t have specifics on this yet, but we may create some tutorials for switching from other builders to Thrive Architect.

  • Great stuff, Shane.

    Top notch plugin coming our way. I’m really excited to get my hands dirty with this one.

    So, at this moment, when I edit a regular WordPress-created article with TCB, I am able to add content ABOVE the content. For the sake of the example, let’s say I added a paragraph and an image there. When I install Architect, and try to edit this page, I will see 3 boxes, the TCB paragraph, the TCB image, and one last box with all the rest of the article created using WordPress. Correct?



    • That’s created in Adobe Premiere, actually. It could probably be done in After Effects as well, but I’m less familiar with that.

  • Stanley, I don’t think you can make 15 min OTOs with Thrive Ultimatum. Last time I looked at it, it allowed minimum 24 hours OTO, which was sad.
    I wanted to implement the 30 min OTO, so I iused the DeadlineFunnel.

  • Trust & Integrity – the most important reasons why I went with TCB and will stay a loyal customer. As comment above: forward thinking & customer focused. If only all of us can run our businesses the same:)

  • actually when using Divi if you actually delete the plugin or the builder options you usually always lose your content. many times after initiating divi and then creating content and then changing my mind to use something else my content is always lost

    • Do you mean the content disappeared entirely? In my tests, this didn’t happen. Although I have to say: an empty page is almost better than a page with a shortcode mess on it, in my opinion. An empty page just looks like there’s something missing or like it’s unfinished. A shortcode mess looks like there’s something seriously wrong with your site.

  • I’m missing the obvious – Thrive Architect is not even listed in your products. What is it, where can it be seen and tested and purchased?

    • Hi Jim,

      Thrive Architect is the name we’ve given our brand new and rebuilt version of Thrive Content Builder.

      It’s not available yet, but it will be released on August 29th.

  • Excellent and IMO very objective review of “builder” plugins… 🙂 My first thought when I read the email was: “Why would anyone want to deactivate TCB?” but I guess it was a very common question.

    Chris Lema’s article was fascinating and educational for me when I read it (last year?) and I’ve always stayed away from builders because they were just in the way and “clunky!” Until Thrive! Now, with some very detailed insights into the new Thrive Architect, I’m even more excited…

    What i think many Thrive customers are not even considering is that “code matters” as an underlying foundational philosophy of Thrive. Bloated or bad code is not going to survive for long, just like those obsolete themes and plugins that are never updated! Quality matters! That’s why I recommend Thrive every time I can! 🙂 You ALL are definitely doing things the right way!

    • Thank you for your support, Karen!

      We do obsess over code and efficiency quite a bit. And we’ve got at least one update on the roadmap that will improve this in a big way, in Thrive Architect as well.

  • Hi Shane,

    great Infos, I’m looking really forward to use Architect.

    On Question: do you have an element where you can display code (like PowerShell scripts) with Architect. We have our difficulties with content Builder to put them into posts.

    • It supports the “preformatted” text like in the WordPress editor, but we don’t have any feature explicitly for displaying code snippets. I recommend using a separate plugin for this.

    • Hello Keith,

      The custom menu element is a bit more customizable than in TCB, but it’s not a huge update yet. We do have further improvements for the element planned, after release.

  • This is exciting stuff!

    I’m curious if Architect will address my biggest annoyance with the old builder, which had to do with color themes, or the lack thereof. Typically I build pages with a pallette of maybe half a dozen colors. If I decided I wanted to see what a page would look like with the colors tweaked, I’d have to tediously go around to every element that used each color and update them individually.

    I’d love to see a feature where elements could be styled with “color 1”, “color 2”, etc. and the numbered colors could then be remapped to concrete colors somewhere central.

    • Hello Avdi,

      I totally agree with the problem you describe here. In the release version of Thrive Architect, we don’t have anything for this yet. However, we’re working on 2 features that will address this problem and make adding brand colors way easier.

  • This is an awesome review of Thrive Architect, I’m so excited by the new features (content preservation, editing existing content on pages, clean code), I love the way you guys do things and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • Awesome post. Answered some questions I’ve always wondered about. I was torn between choosing Thrive, Divi & Genesis. I’m so glad I went with Thrive.

    What you guys have built here is amazing and I can’t imagine producing engaging content with any other builder.

  • Really fantastic Shane – going with Thrive was one of the best decisions I ever made! Great to see you guys enjoy ongoing success. 🙂 One question – I know that TCB content is compatible with Architect, but in the moment if you turn of TCB, the content is lost, yes? So my question is, if you have TCB content, but then upgrade the plugin to Architect, will the content tranform automatically so that it is retained as shown in the video?

    • Thrive Content Builder to Thrive Architect will be a seamless update. Basically, you don’t have to worry about a transition.

  • What a solid job Shane ! I’m impressed by this demo. Even if I’m only concerned by actual TT editor, I respect hours you’ve spent to create this 15 mn video ! I encourage you for that, and wish you the best for this Architect 😉
    A really satisfied Pressive’s client 🙂

  • @shane thanks for putting my mind at ease… I’ve actually only just started to use Thrive Content Builder so when I heard that it was being replaced, I was worried… but looks like there’s no need to be concerned. Excited to start using Architect.

    Also, on a side note, are you able / willing to share what application you use to create your blog videos? I love the small circle image overlay of you speaking in the bottom right hand corner and would like to try this style for some of our members only training videos…


    • Hello Donna,

      The circle crop thingy is done in Adobe Premiere. Because we get asked about it so often, our video editor has created a tutorial on how exactly it’s done, which we’ll release sometime soon. 🙂

      There’s no particularly easy way to do it, though. Premiere is an expensive and pretty complicated piece of software…

  • Great info Shane, thanks! Also appreciate the tightness.. right to the points.
    Maybe I missed it, but if I deactivate Content Builder, to use Architect, what about those pages? Does Architect automatically retain that info?