Trying to Control Node Placement

  • Lane Lester

    Lane Lester - 2011-06-17

    I'm teaching a college biology course where we are using Freeplane to organize
    the content of each textbook chapter. I assign the chapter subtopics to the
    different students, and then I import their maps into a single map for the
    whole chapter using the File / Import / Branch command.

    The import works fine, except the imported nodes are positioned very poorly,
    and I'm finding it very difficult to arrange them evenly around the central
    node. I'm hoping it's possible to select the central node and execute some
    command that will then reposition all its children evenly around the oval.

    When I drag a node individually to a better location, other sibling nodes move
    at the same time, defeating my efforts.


  • spinifex

    spinifex - 2011-06-18

    Hi Lane,

    You might want to check out the Discussion on Free Node placement in this


    and add to the discussion there if the free node placement would help with
    your situation.

    I dont think Free node placement made it back to the latest preview version,
    but I could put up a link to the1.2.6 version that had it if you want it (but
    I only have the Mac version).

    Another idea you might try is the Outline view, which in my version is
    accessible via the View menu.



  • andres

    andres - 2011-06-18

    maybe this can help:
    - expand the nodes to rearrange (Navigate/Unfold...)
    - select those nodes (Edit/...)
    - rearrange the nodes (Nodes/Reset Position)



  • Lane Lester

    Lane Lester - 2011-06-20

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I ended using Andrés' procedure. I did an
    Edit / Select All Visible before I did the Reset Position. That produced a
    much cleaner layout.

    I still would like the ability to tweak in a more limited way. For example,
    today there were three nodes one above the other like this:
    which I would have liked to have changed to:
    but I couldn't use the Move feature (where you hover over the end of the node
    and then drag) without messing up the placement of other nodes.


  • andres

    andres - 2011-06-20

    Hi Lane,
    If I have well understood the operation you describe to reorder 2 and 3, I
    think you only have to change your procedure a little bit::
    a. with the mouse, drag 3 over 2 so that the head of the pointer hovers over
    the top margin of 2
    b. at the top margin of 2 a horizontal strip will appear; then
    c. drop node 3 on that strip



  • Lane Lester

    Lane Lester - 2011-06-20

    Andrés, it seems that what you are describing would convert 3 from being a
    sibling of 2 to becoming a child of 2.

    As they are, 1, 2, and 3 are siblings, and I want them to stay siblings. I
    just want 3 to be displayed above 2.

    For example, in this shot I might want Stroma above chloroplasts:

    But if I hover to the end and drag the "+" icon up, this is what happens:

    In some situations, even the nodes on the other side of the central node get


  • Quinbus

    Quinbus - 2011-06-20


    I was just passing by and noticed the discussion and thought that perhaps a
    picture would be helpful. There are, as you are discovering, several ways to
    "move" a node. The first is with the little oval handle at the end closest to
    the root node. as you've noted, "grabbing" this handle and dragging moves the
    node inside the map without changing the relationship of the node to its

    Reordering a node relative to its siblings is just as simple, requiring only
    that you click the node itself (not the little handle referenced before, but
    out in the node body) and dragging while paying attention to little shadows
    that will appear on other nodes as you drag over them; where the little shadow
    is when you drop the node will determine whether the dragged node is promoted
    above the node you're hovering over or whether it will be demoted to a child
    of the hovered node. This allows you to re-order your map--a very key
    component of any mindmap program (much of the power of an electronic mindmap
    is housed in this important capability).

    Referencing this little screencast will perhaps show it better than words can
    tell (the reason I made the little video was for a discussion with a colleague
    who was exploring the very capabilities you're interested in)...


  • Lane Lester

    Lane Lester - 2011-06-20

    Thanks, Q! That was no doubt what Andrés was trying to describe and I was
    failing to understand. The video was perfect for knowing how to do what I want
    and how to use the repositioning mark at the end.


  • Anonymous - 2011-12-02

    This node free-positioning issue is a shortcoming of both FM and FP. The video
    link quinbus gave us is good but it doesn't show what the real problem is. He
    makes it look like you can move one node anywhere you want without the others
    following. You can't.

    The video shows an unrealistically simple map. If you have a "real" map with
    multiple nodes off the root, you find that when you try to re-position one
    node, about half the other nodes start moving around the screen. You virtually
    CANNOT move a single node to the empty place you want it to be in without
    everything else moving as well. It is verrrrry frustrating.

    Every mind map I have ever worked with before lets you pick up any node and
    put it anywhere on the page you want without anything else moving even a
    fraction of a mm. Not one pixel. So, this can be done, guys. It's the 21st

    I think FP is less frustrating in this regard than FM was, but you still have
    a long way to go in resolving this.

    BTW, loved that presentation. It looks like an
    educator's dream come true.

  • Quinbus

    Quinbus - 2011-12-02


    The screencast you reference was never intended to demonstrate free nodes--the
    specific question it set out to address was how to move nodes relative to one

    And, as an indicator of the speed with which FP is developing, when the video
    was created in June, the capability you described was not even on the radar--
    free positioning of nodes has only been available for the past several months.

    The product is currently in the middle of a new version roll-out, so
    developers like Jokro are busy with catching documentation up with new
    capabilities that are still emerging every week. This is not your father's
    FreeMind anymore; the list of new features and capabilities is staggering and
    hard for even those of us who follow the development on a day-to-day basis. It
    really requires a good deal of thought as to how to modify your old uses of
    FreeMind and pre-1.2 versions of FreePlane; features like groovy scripting
    make it possible now to do things with a so-called "mind map" that weren't
    being discussed ANYWHERE six months ago.

    I'll be interested to see what your impressions are when using the new free-
    node placement capability. It's not perfect yet, but we're light-years ahead
    of where we were even last June.

    Welcome to the community!


  • Anonymous - 2011-12-02

    OK, I've had a go w/ FP 1.2 -- this is looking very good from the free-
    positioning point of view. I would give it a preliminary rating of: Bingo!

    I know my groaning about free-positioning must seem like nit-picking and I
    apologize, but I'm about to dump dozens of hours into mapping -- or re-
    mapping, actually -- a book project. A seemingly trivial feature like moving
    the nodes can easily determine which program to use.

    I'll be spending the next couple of days w/ FP 1.2 .


  • jokro

    jokro - 2011-12-02

    I would appreciate if yould report back which program you choose and why.


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