I am in the same boat, looking for land.
Writing or editing short posts in a browser has certain advantages if they should go straight up here on this site. But there are also certain disadvantages that get worse when the posts in questions or answers are getting longer. As soon as you have to expand the editor box things get ugly fast.
Are long answers bad? If you have to provide sources or quotes, like on this site, length grows quickly without much written by yourself. And I remember one of the preformed critique sound-bytes that sometimes appear under SE posts: "We expect longer answer, that…"
Sometimes I am under the impression that two paragraph answers without sources or links appeared on this site and to me that indicated mostly a quite trivial question yielding trivial answers. While I sometimes struggle to really keep it short, I really try to constrain myself. (Is there a general guideline or recent discussion I overlooked on how to orient yourself, lengthwise in an answer?)
Here, on a site that benefits from at least slightly longer answers, the default browser edit-field is way too small to fit just three proper paragraphs into it. As soon as the editor/writer has to scroll, keeping an eye on structure and layout is simply terrible. If it would at least live-render in side by side mode. Way to many of my edits are because I overlooked something basic, lost orientation in my own text or just wanted to prevent loosing the text.
Offline composing with any editor available that live-renders markdown and only posting the final result when all links and pictures and any formatting quirks are dealt with seems like a better way to go. If it isn't, please correct me. For example if I overlooked a browser configuration or extension?
I've looked into several editors that run on Apple hardware – I also searched for software that does a tiny bit of what I am asking here before — (also in questions on this SE). What came closest so far: I more or less chose to explore MacDown for a quite nice two pane view of source and rendered output. This enables the writer to theoretically write everything offline and then just post the final text on this site. But the downsides to this are the following:
Shortcomings of the current browser editor as is:
- the editing capabilities of this site are optimized for really short posts, your own overview of what's going to be rendered soon requires a lot of scrolling (at least the scrolling mess can be mitigated a bit with this userscript side-by-side-editing)
- browsers used for editing introduce a dependence on internet access (for just writing something this should be superfluous)
- browsers tend to crash a lot more than simpler editors: with online dependence, draft saving make your work a lot more volatile that way (I recently read in a comment "the internet ate my answer…")
Shortcomings of my offline editor:
- pictures cannot be uploaded and auto-linked (a plugin might help?)
- links can only be of the inline-type — not the endnote style this system automatically generates and I prefer in general
- the syntax options available in the preferences of MacDown are a bit oblique to this site (different names, math not available on most SE sites etc.)
- the rendering quirks of this site can not be predicted accurately (really, less of a concern)
Therefore I am still looking for a free alternative that mirrors as close as possible the options available from the SE builtin editor or a pointer on how to achieve this with the otherwise nice MacDown, an alternative editor (also for linux) or a better browser configuration.