Organization for Transformative Works/Accessibility, Design & Technology

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Name: Accessibility, Design and Technology Committee of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW)
Date(s): 2007
Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit
Country based in: USA; international volunteers
Focus: Software design and development; OTW-Archive
External Links: Archive Of Our Own,
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology Committee (AD&T) is one of the committees involved in the Archive Of Our Own (AO3) project run by the Organization for Transformative Works. Its three subcommittees, Design, Coders, and Testers train AD&T volunteers, design and develop software features, and write and test the code for new features and bug fixes.

The OTW website describes its role:

Coordinates software design and development on behalf of the Organization for Transformative Works. The main project currently occupying the Committee is the creation of an open-source software package, OTW-Archive[1], to build and support the Archive of Our Own. AD&T designs, codes and tests the AO3 software, advises the rest of the OTW on accessibility and technology issues, and supports Systems in ensuring the the AO3 site stays running smoothly. AD&T protects and preserves access to fanworks on the AO3. AD&T collaborates with many other committees, and works with Support for managing known issues, fixing bugs and considering feature requests from users; with Tag Wrangling for anything tag-related; with Internationalization & Outreach and Translation for preparing to translate the Archive, and for translating FAQs and news posts; and with Communications for news posts, admin messages, banner messages, and the AO3 Twitter accounts (AO3_Status, ao3org).

AD&T prefers all committee members to have experience as volunteers and recruits new members from the volunteer pools. AD&T is currently seeking volunteers for accessibility, coding, design, documentation, testing, and usability work. The Archive of Our Own is coded in Ruby, and we welcome volunteers of every level of experience. No technical experience is required for testing.

To learn more about coding and testing, check out Behind the scenes at the AO3: A day in the life of a coder, the transcript from our Intro to Testing Chat, and the transcript of our Intro to Coding Chat. To learn more about the AD&T committee, check out AD&T Meeting Notes, Oct. 22.[2]

The AD&T committee and volunteers use a number of tools to communicate - mailing lists, Campfire chatrooms and chat transcripts, the internal OTW wiki, and the Google Code issue tracker and OTW-Archive code repository on Github.

Infographic showing connections between AD&T and OTW committees & users & processes for building AO3

History of Chairs

Volunteer Roles


  • Design new AO3 features in conjuction with AD&T Committee - create wiki pages with specifications and mock-ups
  • Create JIRA issues with information for the Coders to create the new features
  • 2010 and 2011 design lead was Amelia


  • Write the code to implement new features
  • Write code to fix bugs and undesireable behaviour based on reports from AO3 users and volunteers - for example user reports submitted to Support, or problems Testers or Tag Wranglers notice while working on the Archive
  • Front-End coders write XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript - the languages that control how the pages display. Often the same code displays differently in different internet browsers, depending on how the browers interpret and display the code - a situation testers are very familiar with!
  • Back-End coders write Ruby on Rails - the language that does the behind the scenes work and communicates with the database
  • Both sets of coders write automated tests (Cucumber, rspec) to make sure their new code works properly
  • The new code is submitted to and merged into the main OTW-Archive code repository at GitHub. It is then deployed to the Test Archive.


  • Test the new code does what it should! They read the description or documentation written by the Coder or Designer on its JIRA issue, and attempt to either recreate the bug, or use the new feature or enhancement on the version of the Archive the code is on. Usually the new code is deployed to (put on) the Test version of the Archive before being deployed to the main Archive (Beta).
  • For Front-End bugs, the code is usually tested in as many internet browsers and operating systems as possible to pick up any differences in display or behaviour. For this reason testers often have several browsers installed on their computer (for example Firefox 7, Opera 11.50, Google Chrome 15.0.874.120 m, and Internet Explorer 7). One tester may have Windows 7 (Microsoft) operating system, another Ubuntu (Linux) and a third OS X (Apple Mac).
  • Once the Tester/s have confirmed the new code works as desired, the testing lead update the JIRA issue with a Verified label and the new code is then deployed to the main Archive in the next code push.
  • If any new bugs are discovered during testing, they are logged on JIRA for a Coder to fix and the cycle begins anew.
  • Testers also may attempt to reproduce/replicate and log bugs reported to Support by Archive users.
  • 2009 Test Lead was Jennifew
  • 2010 Test Lead was Eylul
  • 2011 Test Lead was Kylie
  • More recent Test Lead is LadyOscar


  • Organises mentoring of new Coders (not necessarily doing it themselves)
  • Organises training sessions
  • Updates training documentation
  • 2011 Training Lead was Jenny Scott-Thompson
  • Previous training leads were Cal and Zooey




  1. ^ OTW-Archive is "an open-source software package, OTW-Archive, which will allow fans to host their own robust, full-featured archives, which can support even an archive on a very large scale of hundreds of thousands of stories and has the social networking features to make it easier for fans to connect to one another through their work." From the Archive of Our Own page on
  2. ^ OTW list of 2012 Committees