How about a "free" layout where nodes can be placed anywhere on the screen?
I agree that full freedom will not provide some helpfully automatic hierarchical reordering (now is done by the algorithm), but many times it is too strict, not doing what I'd want, and ctrl/shift-drag only help limitedly.
Often I'd want to place children closer, even right next or above to a parent (which also points to another popular requested feature, freeing up the parent-child hierarchy itself) or place them in a circle around a parent. And I'd want to branch out vertically or diagonally, instead of only horizontally. Often, I don't know how big the branch will be so I search for a free spot. (There's plenty up and down from the center node...) But once the branches grow they start pushing each other in all kinds of unwanted directions (as long as you don't understand the rules the algorithm applies) making manual graphical correction a growing task in the process.
The point is, that it's ok to have an algorithm help you order according to a global grid or rule set, but in practice it works best for me when applied to *not all nodes or branches*, allowing for a mix of paradigms (horizontal/vertical, relative density, concentric/linear, etc) and some manual control for exceptions. Some other programs offer magnetic grids and templates, but I run into similar problems because they always act globally, not allowing for the typical hybrids I end up to require. Even when I'm doing data visualisation completely manually (eg. in Illustrator) I end up searching for a global form paradigm (which can be translated to an ordering algorithm) with some exceptions to the rule.
Maybe making a grid & algorithm options visible and limitedly accessible for (local & global) change could already help a lot.
Aaron Dick commented
My biggest barrier to adoption on MindUp has been the inability to get to a horizontal format and create line connections that are straight. So that I can see more information in a single view. I do understand that you can drag and drop the nodes horizontally but it still keeps the parent node mid way down in relationship to the list. I would like to see the node go to the top of the list and have the children nodes list out below it so that I can put several nodes side by side.
I've previously used MindGenius which allowed you to select the format / layout of the nodes (http://www.mindgenius.com/MindGenius-Uses/Meetings.aspx) to allow for horizontal layouts, different line shapes, specifically like Image 3 in the link above. Also, the transition from image 1 to the image 3 was just a selection of how you wanted that node formatted.
Dennis Daniels commented
I would like to suggest the the 'free' layout be considered as a 'node' gets locked in one place. This functionality offers some usefulness in linear processing and templating. Please see my video which shows the benefits of this behavior. http://youtu.be/f8VK3gsTygY
Alex - 'never move' is something people often ask about but don't think through... what about parent moving? what about the root node moving? what about other nodes moving close to it...
Agreed - having a way to 'Anchor' the node so that it will never move would be useful
Marcel Waldvogel commented
I second Zac: Having another layout option (or a better layout algorithm) for wide branching is more helpful and scalable than manual layout (except maybe for a few nodes, but there we have shift-drag)
This is doable by pressing shift and dragging your node.
I think this would break the elegance of the program, since nodes are automatically positioned according to a straightforward algorithm. That's a wonderful feature of the program. Be careful about adding this functionality.
I absolutely love MindMup and the one thing that would make me love it more is the ability to draw an impact map and make the layers clear(er).
Zac Gray commented
What 'need' I feel this would fix, is that I have a very widely branching mindmap that I jump around in, with others that I'm collaborating with. After about 5 nodes, that go 4 or 5 levels deep, MindMup arranges them vertically so they span 2 or 3 whole screens - making it hard to browse them. It would be easier to navigate if they could be spread out in different directions than only "branching left (or right) away from center"
Zac Gray commented
I read that we can do shift+ctrl to "manually position" nodes, but they're still restricted to the same direction from the root node.
Another idea that might be feasible is other layout options like radial, or up-down positioning.