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What is going wrong in Automatic Layout ?
  1. The key problem is that Graphviz parents are agoraphobically skewed towards each other, in a way that is visually unexpected, and a source of further problems down-stream.
  2. The forcing together of parents places pressure, in turn, on enclosed ranges of children, squeezed by cousins on either side.
  3. In the clash between huddling parents, and enclosed children struggling claustrophobically for space between their cousins, even-numbered ranges of squeezed children introduce spurious asymmetry, while odd-numbered ranges of squeezed children seem to leave symmetry undistorted..
  4. but even when the diagram is not artificially asymmetric, the squeezing of children between cousins still leaves some (or even all !!) parent-child relationships completely indecipherable.

Solution ? Plain vanilla orthogonal trees, with parents centered over children. Even if this means politely setting Graphviz aside for tree diagrams (with orthogonal connectors), or adding a post-processor to clean up after it.