I am an experienced mindmapper. I like FreeMind as it is cross-platform. However, my difficulty with the default layout is that:
1. Nodes should be positioned clockwise from 1 o'clock, not randomly (standard mindmap convention)
2. When I attempt to reposition nodes, say right to left, the sub-nodes do not change their position. Therefore a node with sub-nodes extending right, will still have sub-nodes extending (wrongly) to the right, when the node is repositioned left.
I cannot find a default setting to arrange nodes clockwise, and I do not know how to overcome the manual layout difficulty
Unfortunately freemind's default is bilateral symmetry, so thats as close to a clock as you will get. Re node repositioning: it sounds like you are moving the nodes via their "handles", which is only meant for very minor adjustments of the node itself, and not its children. Proper movements can be done by highlighting a node, and then using CTRL-arrow (CMD-arrow on Mac) where arrow is one of the four keyboard arrows. But you are restricted to moving a node from left-to-right, or up-down.
Node positioning is unfortunately a maddening feature of FreeMind, particularly the way nodes cannot always be moved independently. Once you have even a mildly big map the spacing between modes starts to assume a life of its own, seemingly hell-bent on territorial expansion. There may be some logic that allows one to make a map more compact but it eludes me. It's not so critical for me, working on my 24in screen, but all my students now work with 10-13in laptops, and Freemind's klutzy space-management is almost enough to make me look for something else.
I did not have this problem back in October, 2010. But when I tried to redo a MindMap with more child nodes, they spread out all over the place. Has no one found a solution to this? If not, I may need to switch to a different mindmapping application.