The Problem

I've got my monitor in portrait mode and when I'm editing a question, I seem to gravitate towards the preview and start trying to click around to edit it.

That's a Newbie Mistake

I'm very surprised - I'm a developer building his own application, I love computers and I'm a power user who can recite most of the keyboard shortcuts for the apps I love. And I've been using Stack Overflow for quite a while now. You'd have thought I got used to it.

This the kind of thing I'd expect a user to do who doesn't understand about how browsers or editors work. And yet I've made this mistake three times in a row now and it's getting really annoying.

What Causes This

I think it's because:

  1. The preview is large relative to the question editing area in portrait mode.

  2. The distracting nature of the code preview or images - they stand out and draw my eye to the preview section.

Possible Solution

I think if point 1 was fixed, point 2 would be a non-issue - because more of your preview would be pushed off the screen.

This could be done only in portrait mode - people viewing the page on a normal landscape monitor would be unaffected.

Current Layout

Current Screen http://synapticmishap.co.uk/CurrentScreen.jpg

Suggested Layout

Suggested Screen http://synapticmishap.co.uk/SuggestedScreen.jpg


Since it looks like you're not using Opera, but instead something called Safari, aren't you able to drag the lower right corner to extend your textarea area?

(If you're using the super fantastic Opera, it's just the bottom bar of the textarea.

barring the hulk

Though why you would want to type with just three visible lines showing, hey to each a peach.)

But then this would only solve your case and not across the board.

Haven't been of the use of looking at the preview text and thinking it was too much of a draw card. Used to be the preview had a dark grey background, but now it's got this nicely dotted border instead.

Is it really that much of a problem to be able to distinguish what the edit area is and where the preview of what you're typing up is?

  • You can resize any text area in Chrome as well. – Graeme Perrow Oct 17 '09 at 12:23
  • Oh that funky webkit! – random Oct 17 '09 at 12:26
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    I hadn't noticed it before at all, but indeed you can increase the size of the edit box to your heart's content (just tried it in Firefox and Safari). +1 for pointing that out. I think this feature request can go straight to 'completed' (no real need to change the default size or anything like that). – Jonik Oct 17 '09 at 12:28
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    I think it's a usability issue which is why I brought it up. Of course I resized the window, but that doesn't change the fact that several times now I've tried to edit the preview. I don't think it's a critical issue, or even an important one, but it is an issue nonetheless. If it can be fixed easily, it just makes StackOverflow a bit easier to use. How is this a bad thing? – John Gallagher Oct 17 '09 at 13:09
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    Making the textarea larger by default might be good for you, but I'm afraid it would be a usability degradement for others. For one thing, the preview might be pushed out of the view entirely. Most users don't have their monitor in portait mode. – Jonik Oct 17 '09 at 14:38

I think we want to give more prominence to the preview because that's how the text will appear.

And the preview is always going to stand out because it's formatted, maybe with bold text or headings.

I think you just have to get used to it.

  • Unless you have underscore in the middle of a word or some other intraword markdown. Preview will not reflect the actual. – random Oct 17 '09 at 11:57
  • Hmmm, I'm still learning the mysteries of markdown. – pavium Oct 17 '09 at 12:02
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    I disagree. I think we want to give more prominence to the editing section, because that's where we're actually doing something. When I'm typing, I'm not looking at Preview. It's great for seeing how Markdown formats something, but I use it like to check what I've written, not to watch whilst I'm typing. – John Gallagher Oct 17 '09 at 13:12

The browser, in this case, doesn't matter -- AFAIK, all the major browsers can expand the S[OFU] text editor using the spiffy bar at the bottom. I'm looking at it in Firefox on a Mac now, and swear I can do it in FF and IE on Windows at work -- and of course, Safari and Chrome as mentioned by random.

For those who are web developers, I'm speaking specifically the div whose class is grippie. I just made this text editor really big for no good reason whatsoever. :)

Since the editor can be resized at will on the major desktop browsers, I'd say there's no real need for change here. I think statistically, portrait-monitor users will be far (far) outnumbered by standard (4:3) and widescreen (16:9, 16:10) users, and we should probably optimize for the latter pair (shorter visible area) therefore.

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