February 8, 2016

QuickToC is now Theory Maker!

A theory of change for our project!

Great, but so fiddly to actually draw.

Theory Maker is designed to meet this need.

Theory Maker is a free and simple web app for making diagrams of theories of change, logframes, etc. Its special feature is that you can also create boxes to group the pieces of your network, for example to mark off different phases, regions or stakeholders.

First, do us a favour by clicking here: tell your followers about theorymaker!

You make the diagrams just by typing the names of the elements in a structured way into a (resizeable) window, and you get a live diagram as output which reflects what you type. You can save the diagram as a graphics file or just copy and paste it into any document, but don’t forget to copy and paste the text somewhere too because it won’t be there next time you visit the site.

What Theory Maker provides

Quick and easy …

This site tries to make it easy to make a diagram using only text typed according to really simple rules.

… theories of change

There are plenty of toolkits for making various kinds of network graphs and UML diagrams. Some are offline, some are online, for example plantuml. But Theory Maker is optimised for, as the name says, theories of change, logframes, etc.

… including boxes

Its special feature is that you can also create boxes to group the pieces of your network, for example to mark off different phases, regions or stakeholders. So in addition to the graph itself, you can show hierarchical grouping of nodes using nested boxes. This is particularly useful in the field of project monitoring and evaluation, in which it is often necessary, alongside the causal flow between project variables which can be captured with a normal directed graph, to show other non-causal but possibly hierarchical grouping of variables e.g. project phase, geographical distribution etc.

What it doesn’t do

No control over layout

It doesn’t give you much control over the actual layout (like whether something appears at the top or bottom). This tool tries to keep the layout simple, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are where you want them. Don’t bother trying to get the nodes and boxes to move about: If you want to tweak a diagram further, you can download the .svg version of it and manipulate it further in Inkscape, Libreoffice Draw or Illustrator.

Remember to save your text

There is no registration or log-in. You just type text. Don’t forget to copy and paste the text you typed somewhere too because it won’t be there next time you visit the site.

Anyone want to help me make this into a plugin for MS Word? Enter the text, press a button, get the graphic inserted below?


r software theorymaker evaluation mande quicktoc


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The grammar of Theory Maker This is a quick summary. There are more details and examples here. Every line is either blank or defines a variable or a box. Just type characters:
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The theory behind theories of change This essay will look at the theory behind theories of change. First of


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