Anime Blog Shop Talk

Blog Shop Talk: Editor Throwdown: Thrive Architect vs Gutenberg

In Ancient Days

I admit it. I’m a snob when it comes to editors. Before there was any such thing as WordPress, I had tried almost every word processor out there. I still have fond memories of PFS:Write; I still hate DisplayWrite 5; a part of me died when WordPerfect for DOS went under. Version 5.1 wasn’t graphical, but it was the best word processor I’ve ever used. Now, I use and heartily endorse Scrivener.

But I digress. I’m trying to talk about WordPress editors.

When I first starting using WordPress, I used the basic editor. It was fine. It let me type stuff and correct my mistakes. It let me put pictures kinda sorta where I wanted them. But it wasn’t enough. I wanted more control over formatting. I wanted templates. I wanted reusable text. So, I looked around and found what seemed to me to be the best at the time: Thrive Architect.

Unfortunately, that’s about to change.

Fall from Grace

At first, Thrive Architect did a great job for me. I had more precise control over where graphics went. I could more easily handle multiple columns. The editor was fast and crisp; it got out of my way and helped me get work done. I didn’t have reusable text blocks, but otherwise, it was fine.

At first, everything seemed fine. My subscribers saw e-mails that looked like this. Which is to say, which looked like the actual published article.

I can’t remember exactly when I started noticing performance issues, but as it is now, there are times when I get 10 or 15 paragraphs into a post, and what I type sometimes takes a few seconds to make it to the screen. I’m using an iMac with a 4Ghz Intel i7 processor. It has 16Gb of RAM. There’s no reason in the world what’s essentially a word processor should demonstrate lag like that.

One upgrade took my ability to test hyper-links from within the editor. I had to edit the link, highlight all of it, right-click, and use Chrome’s “Go to…” option. Thrive tech support was very nice; they even apologized for removing the feature. But it slowed me down.

Then the final straw: You know how when you subscribe to a WordPress site, you can get an e-mail of the post? Kinda nice, isn’t it? I love it when people subscribe to my site, and I want to give those subscribers the best possible experience.

Thrive Architect makes that impossible.

I subscribe to my own site using one of my spare e-mail addresses so I can monitor how the posts look in e-mail form. I can’t remember exactly when; it might have been around the time I upgraded my site to Jetpack Professional. But the e-mail version of the posts were older versions of the posts! Sometimes, it was just the outline or template.

That meant my subscribers, folks who had gone to the trouble of asking to see my stuff, were seeing garbage.

No, this isn’t a screen shot of the post prior to publishing. This is the e-mail that my subscribers received. It’s like 10 revisions previous! If you’re a subscriber, please accept my apologies. I’m taking steps to fix this.

I contacted both Jetpack and Thrive technical support. Jetpack asked if my posts written in the basic editor (like my collaborations with Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime) were showing the same symptoms. I hadn’t made the connection until then, but I realized the answer was no. Posts written with the original editor were working just fine.

Thrive tech support was very nice, just like before. They tried to be helpful. But the bottom line from one of their e-mails was this: “If the text is automatically fetched from the content, then it might be an issue because Thrive Architect stores its content in wp postmeta fields, which is a different database table than where WordPress natively stores it.”

It appears that Thrive Architect can’t work with Jetpack’s subscription engine. At least not consistently. To be fair, Thrive probably wants me to stay in their eco system and use their e-mail subscription tools. But that’s not what I want to do; I want to stay as close to the WordPress ecosystem as possible, and that means Jetpack.

Not only was Thrive Architect starting to get in my way as I tried to write. Now it was mistreating my subscribers.

But the basic editor was still too primitive to meet my needs. What’s a blogger to do?

A Challenger Appears

When WordPress 5 appeared, I tried Gutenberg. This was before I had used Thrive Architect very much. I found Gutenberg to be such a drastic departure from the basic editor that I went in search of something else. In fact, that’s when I settled on Thrive Architect.

Emil Crossford would have selected Gutenberg. Because, you know, she was from Gutenberg. Okay, it sounded funnier in my head… Emil even looks disappointed. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Now that I want to move to another platform, I gave Gutenberg another try. Guess what? Thrive Architect’s model of treating everything like a block changed how I look at the WordPress editor. Now, Gutenberg seemed a lot more accessible. It made more sense to me.

When I type a paragraph in Gutenberg and press enter, it create a new text block. You can move text blocks around. You can insert illustrations between them, or to their left or right. It reminds me a lot of Thrive Architect.

Best of all? I can create text blocks and share them between posts. At the bottom of each of my series reviews, I include links to the other episode reviews on my site. Before code blocks, I had to go in and update every previous review with links to the new one. That means on episode 24, I had to update 23 other documents. Publishing a review took forever!

Thrive Architect has reusable code blocks, but not ones I can create. I solved the problem with Thrive Architect by using a plugin called “Raw HTML Snippets.” It’s a solid plugin, but it’s basic; the more full featured plug ins generated an HTTP 500 error when used with Thrive Architect. So that was another way it interfered with my creative process.

Another thing I like about Gutenberg is that no matter how long the post gets, I haven’t seen the lag I saw with Thrive Architect. I can test links again within the editor. Basically, Gutenberg addresses everything that had been bothering me about the basic editor. The editor once again helps me get work done by giving features and getting out of my way.

It’s almost as exciting as using PFS:Write again.

Going Forward

I’ll give Thrive Architect credit: When I cancel my subscription, the content I’ve already generated will still display correctly. However, if I want to edit it, I’ll need to go to extra lengths.

Before I cancel, I’ll need to redo my Episode Guides page using Gutenberg. Same thing with my Caw Out Awards page. It’s necessary, though. I can’t let my subscribers keep seeing old versions of my published articles. That’s terrible service! It’s the opposite of how I want to treat my subscribers.

If I can pull one lesson out of my experience with Thrive Architect, it’s this: If you’re looking for any plugin that affects your site in general, make sure that if you decide to cancel it, your content remains available. I may have fallen out of love with Thrive Architect, but I still respect its philosophy. But I just need an editor with better performance and stability.

And I need my editor to give my readers in general and my subscribers in particular the best possible experience.

Are you using Gutenberg? What’s your experience been like? What other editors are you using? Let me know in the comments!

19 thoughts on “Blog Shop Talk: Editor Throwdown: Thrive Architect vs Gutenberg

  1. Generally I use either the classic editor, a Word doc or a Google doc (the last one is generally for collabs). Gutenberg was rather fiddly (although the ability to make a coloured block is cool, so I ended up using it for a collab earlier this year) and the classic editor is the only one that supports some of the HTML I include in my posts (sure, they have HTML blocks and classic blocks, but there’s always a pop-up saying “this post uses stuff from the classic editor”).

    1. “Generally I use either the classic editor, a Word doc or a Google doc (the last one is generally for collabs).”

      Hard to beat Google Docs for collabs. I was happy to see it pasted easily into Gutenberg — at least for the most part.

      “and the classic editor is the only one that supports some of the HTML I include in my posts ”

      I’ve seen some of those incompatibilities. Most of the stuff I’ve tried worked, but in my experimentation site, I saw stuff fail. That’s hard for me to understand. If Gutenberg is the path forward, you’d think it would support everything the basic editor did — plus more.

      Maybe it’ll get better as time goes on. I hope so!

  2. I’ve been using gutenberg for a while now and it’s kind of grown in me. I usually write my posts on a word document, so when I copy and paste it, every paragraph becomes is own block. I really like that. I do have to rebold some headings, but that isn’t really hard or take very long.

    1. “I’ve been using gutenberg for a while now and it’s kind of grown in me.”

      That’s good to hear! I’m getting more and more comfortable with it; it’s encouraging to hear that your longer experience bears that out.

      “I really like that. I do have to rebold some headings, but that isn’t really hard or take very long.”

      I’ve copied and pasted from Google Docs, and I’ve had a similar experience. I’ve often wondered if using Google Docs, Scrivener, or even Word might be better for the drafts; and if using Gutenberg more as a layout tool might make sense. I’ll have to experiment more with that…

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  3. I think I switched to Gutenberg in January. At first there were some lag issues, but a couple updates later and they were sorted. Now, I’m in the process of updating my older posts and converting them all to blocks.

    The reusable blocks are the best thing ever and it’s so easy to format and arrange the posts exactly as I want them and I’m pretty picky and hands on when it comes to stuff like that.

    1. “Now, I’m in the process of updating my older posts and converting them all to blocks.”

      I have only tried to convert a few older posts, but Gutenberg seemed to do a solid job. Is it going smoothly for you?

      “The reusable blocks are the best thing ever ”

      Amen to that!

      “it’s so easy to format and arrange the posts exactly as I want them and I’m pretty picky and hands on when it comes to stuff like that.”

      You might not be able to tell it based on my site, but I’m picky about that, too. I like the control Gutenberg gives me, especially compared to the basic editor. Thrive Architect still has some amazing abilities, too. I’m actually a little sad that it has stumbled so hard.

      1. Yeah, I’m finding it really easy to convert them. It’s taking me some time but just because there’s so many of them. I don’t doubt you’ll face the same obstacle.

        It’s a shame when a trusted tool no longer works for you. One of my pushes with going to Gutenberg when I did was that I knew there would come a time when we had to make the change, same as with Windows updates. I figure it’s better to get in early and get used to it. I’m certainly glad I did.

  4. I’ve been using Gutenberg since the end of last year and only go back to classic when I’m writing a post Irina has started because she still uses classic. I find the blocks so much faster for writing and formatting. It doesn’t always go 100% right but I definitely appreciate the time it saves in formatting most of the time.

    1. “I’ve been using Gutenberg since the end of last year”

      Now that you mention it, I should have given you some credit. I was a lot more favorably inclined to try Gutenberg after reading your post:

      https://100wordanime.blog/being-fearless-and-taking-on-a-colossal-challenge/

      So thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

      “I find the blocks so much faster for writing and formatting.”

      After I got used to it, I do, too. I find that I no longer think in terms of sentences, but in terms of paragraphs, at least when it comes to formatting. It makes me feel like I can see the forest _and_ the trees, instead of just one or another.

      ” but I definitely appreciate the time it saves in formatting most of the time.”

      Plus, as you pointed out in your post, reusable blocks are amazing.

  5. I have a very simple WP blog, with very simple formatting requirements, and no need to do anything special for my reader (Hi, Mom!). I tried the new Gutenberg when it first came out — it was kindof hard not to — but it had its own ideas about how to do things, and I spent a lot of time fighting the interface. It didn’t take me long to fall back to the Classic editor.

    Even now, I have to be careful about how I create a new entry, or edit it, because Gutenberg is waiting there, like a rake in the grass, to jump up and take over. Not sure what I’ll do in ’22 if Classic is going away. Maybe go back to using gEdit.

    1. “and I spent a lot of time fighting the interface. ”

      The change was so drastic that I rejected it at first. It was only after I’d gotten used to the block-oriented approach in Thrive Architect, then watched its decline that I could finally appreciate what Gutenberg was trying to do.

      It’s almost like the difference between Word and LaTeX. Both can produce output, but if don’t need the power of LaTeX, it’s better to just use Word.

      “Maybe go back to using gEdit.”

      Just looking at the home page, it almost looks like it lets you write posts from the inside out — in native HTML. Is that right? How did you like it? I have to admit, the programmer in me likes that sort of thing.

      1. Mostly, I work in the WP Classic editor in Visual mode, and roll into Text if I have to do HTML formatting. That’s usually for tables, or for things like , where WP did away with the functionality. On the one hand, I’ve done enough programming in the past that I’m not bothered by having to do that. On the other hand, inserting a table is as fancy as I get. The current first entry on my home page (My Fall Anime…) started out as a table, and then I suddenly realized I didn’t have to go that far.

        If I’m writing something long and simple I’ll use gEdit, which is roughly equivalent to Notepad++. That’s so I don’t have to worry about WP deciding I really should be using Guten right now. When I’ve done as much as possible in plain text, I’ll copy/paste into WP Classic and play with the formatting.

        If I did more than a couple of blog entries a week, I’d have to get more serious about it.

        1. “which is roughly equivalent to Notepad++”

          You have great taste in text editors! I use that all the time when I have to do general purpose editing on Windows.

        2. Correction: “…things like _underline_, where WP…”. I made the mistake of putting in an actual tag in the original, and the remarkerizer didn’t like it.

  6. I have tried Gutenberg at least once when WordPress tried to push it on users. I did not like it since it interferes with my workflow. I do not use the WordPress editor to write posts, but actually write them in Microsoft Word for Mac and also on the Word app on my iPad Pro. The new blocks system interferes with Microsoft Word when I do additional grammar/readability checks. After proofreading, I paste everything back and add any images.

    I know that Gutenberg is a very controversial change that people stayed on WordPress 4.9.x with the Classic Editor plugin or switch to a fork for Classicpress. My posts usually don’t require advanced formatting and most of the formatting is done in Word, so the Classic Editor meets most of my needs. Automattic has to take it out of my cold hands.

    Still, I think Gutenberg should not be built into the core and forced on users and remain a separate plugin. It’s like the Windows 8 fiasco again forcing a tablet interface on a desktop operating system.

    I’m still stuck on 4.9.x, which still receives security updates because of this forcing Gutenberg on everyone thing. The thing is that new plugin updates will eventually require a new version. While Classic Editor still exists on WordPress 5.x, I heard that they are dropping support for it in 2022, which doesn’t make me feel good. That is not much time until it’s killed off, thus needing to change my workflow. I don’t like using the WordPress editor as I want to work on my posts locally so I don’t lose my work if the internet were to go out or something.

    1. “I have tried Gutenberg at least once when WordPress tried to push it on users.”

      I didn’t talk about it, but the “push” just felt… obnoxious. I think it prejudiced me against the new editor early on.

      “also on the Word app on my iPad Pro. ”

      How do you like the iPad Pro as a creator’s tool? I’ve been wondering about that!

      “Automattic has to take it out of my cold hands.”

      Are there features the basic editor doesn’t have that you’d like?

      “It’s like the Windows 8 fiasco again forcing a tablet interface on a desktop operating system.”

      Ouch! Those are strong words! I still think Windows 2000 is the ultimate Windows interface. Everything after that has just annoyed me. Maybe that’s why I like Linux Mint Cinnamon so much…

      “I don’t like using the WordPress editor as I want to work on my posts locally so I don’t lose my work if the internet were to go out or something.”

      I think that kind of caution is healthy. Even though I use both Google Drive and iCloud, I still copy them locally once a month to have a backup.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      1. Actually, with iPadOS 13, I can probably do most if not all the blog post creation since Apple implemented a desktop class browser, meaning it’s possible to do the final touches in the WordPress classic editor (e.g. adding pictures, setting tags, categories, etc). Word for iOS is more than adequate for typing up posts (actually created a few posts using my iPad Pro 11 with a keyboard). I went into detail on how I use my iPad for content creation in a recent post on my blog.

        The problem with Gutenberg is that since I write my posts in Word, it treats each paragraph as a block, making it difficult to copy back into Word. Also, some plugins are not compatible with Gutenberg, although this might have changed. This is not a problem with the classic editor.

        I actually used Windows from 3.1 until XP as a main operating system before switching to macOS as a main one, although I still use Vista, 8, 7, and 10 once in a while. Preference wise, Windows 7 is the last good operating system until Microsoft decided to mess it up with 8. I still have to install a third party start menu program like Start8/Start10, Classic Shell to bring back the Windows 7 start menu.

        1. “Actually, with iPadOS 13, I can probably do most if not all the blog post creation since Apple implemented a desktop class browser, ”

          I’d heard Apple was doing that. Glad to hear it’s working for you!

          I’ll have to give that another look. iPad’s portability is better even than my MacBook Air.

          “I actually used Windows from 3.1 until XP”

          Hate to say it, but there are days I miss XP. Solid little OS.

          “Preference wise, Windows 7 is the last good operating system until Microsoft decided to mess it up with 8. ”

          That’s my take on it, too. I only use Windows for work or for games at home. Otherwise, I prefer MacOS for creative work and various flavors of Linux for programming.

          I favor operating systems that I can control. With Linux, I could go so far as to examine the source code and compile it myself. With MacOS, I trust Apple when they say they’re taking privacy seriously.

          Windows?

          I don’t care if Microsoft knows I play STALKER. Otherwise, that’s all the info I’m giving them.

          I might look into Classic Shell. Thanks for reminding me it’s still around!

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