A large part of the learning process when you’re learning Renoise is deciding what lpb and what pattern length you want to use. Everyone does something completely different. You are right though, if you use a high lpb, editing longer patterns is really difficult. You have to find the trade off that works for you. It also matters how large your monitor is and what font size you set.
I’ve changed my default pattern length and lpb countless times, so here’s a run down of a few combos with their ups and downs:
*4 lpb with whatever pattern length fits entirely on your screen (I’m using 32 atm)- easiest to visualize and compose with. Easy 16th notes, and you rarely need faster than that, and if you do you can always just use delay column. Compared to higher lpb’s this will also give you much better results with humanizing. Use this in combination with the fractional notes tool (a must have) so you can do triplets etc. Also remember the retrig command.
*12 lpb with 1-2 measures of pattern length - Easy triplets. Very popular due to easy triplets. I personally find it confusing to use. In most scenarios, 90% or more of my song will not make use of the easy triplets, so I personally decided it wasn’t worth it. I prefer to just use fractional notes tool when I want a triplet than to let my entire lpb revolve around occasional triplets. The main reason I don’t like 12 lpb is that it greatly inflates the wasted space in your patterns, while having the same nontriplet resolution as 4 lpb (still can only do 1/16th notes).
*8 lpb with whatever pattern length fits - If you use a ton of fast notes, this is a really good choice. Less wasted space than 12 lpb, yet higher resolution for non triplets. Can still just use fractional notes tool for triplets. Generally if you need faster notes than what these lines give you, you’re going into glitch territory and might be better off using retrig or the Repeater DSP. The only downside I feel from this is that it is slightly awkward to visualize/compose at 8 compared to 4 and 16. Still easier than 12 though.
*16 lpb with 1-2 measures of pattern length - This was my default for a very long time. Don’t do this, it’s beyond overkill. I did this for like, a year, and you know how many times I really took advantage of this resolution? Zero. It was completely pointless.
So experiment and find what works for you, but I personally recommend starting with 4 lpb. Combined with fractional notes tool, 4 lpb is imo the easiest to compose with. Also keep in mind you can set phrases to be a different lpb, so you can use that if you want to do something weird without changing your song’s global setting.
As others have mentioned, composing in Renoise is a keyboard based workflow. Less mouse, more keyboard, more speed. Learn the keyboard shortcuts. Once you have a lpb you feel comfortable with and have learned your way around the pattern matrix, getting an idea from your head to a track is lightning fast, a speed you just can’t achieve with a piano roll. It has it’s weaknesses, but this is why people who like trackers like trackers.