To explain what I mean, I think I need to recap how I use scratchpad. Scratchpad opens in a separate window. It's not dependent on any particular tab but can run in the context of the selected tab. You can have multiple windows open and they will behave the same way. This is great for two things:
- Longer lived ideas that are connected to page/site but that I either want to persist between tabs or I simply want to keep around for later use.
The devtools console I use for:
- Shorter lived ideas focusing on an immediate task in a particular tab. I usually don't mind if it disappears when I close the tab because my task's done.
So when I say the devtools console "gets in the way" I mean that if I try using it as a substitute for task 1 or 2 (long lived tasks) it gets in the way of using it for 3 (short lived tasks). The best I can do at the moment is manually open a new tab (remembering to keep it open) then detach a devtools console window, switch to multiline mode and expand the editor area. Then if I do want to run in the context of a tab, I can copy/paste between the two editors. This isn't ideal but it's the closest I can manage to emulate scratchpad.
As I said, I'm not sure how my use case could be supported other than allowing consoles that are detached from any tab. And I'm not claiming this use case deserves any special attention, maybe I'm an extreme outlier. And perhaps task 1 would be better served by another application, not Firefox.
In short, my one line summary would be that, for me, devtools console is for temporary tab-dependent tasks whereas scratchpad is for more persistent and tab-independent tasks.