What is XBRL?


XBRL is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data which is revolutionising business reporting around the world.  It provides major benefits in the preparation, analysis and communication of business information.  It offers cost savings, greater efficiency and improved accuracy and reliability to all those involved in supplying or using financial data.

XBRL is being developed by an international non-profit consortium of approximately 450 major companies, organisations and government agencies. It is an open standard, free of licence fees.  It is already being put to practical use in a number of countries and implementations of XBRL are growing rapidly around the world.”   

-- XBRL International, read more

“XBRL is a freely available, market-driven, open, and global standard for exchanging business information. XBRL allows information modelling and the expression of semantic meaning commonly required in business reporting. XBRL is XML-based. It uses the XML syntax and related XML technologies such as XML Schema, XLink, XPath, and Namespaces to articulate this semantic meaning. One use of XBRL is to define and exchange financial information, such as a financial statement. The XBRL Specification is developed and published by XBRL International, Inc. (XII).XBRL is a standards-based way to communicate and exchange business information between business systems. These communications are defined by metadata set out in XBRL taxonomies, which capture the definition of individual reporting concepts as well as the relationships between concepts and other semantic meaning. Information being communicated or exchanged is provided within an XBRL instance.”                                       

-- XBRL wiki, read more

  1. 1.Automation

  2. 2.Cost saving

  3. 3.Speed of processing

  4. 4.Reliability and accuracy

  5. 5.Comparability

  1. 1.High early setup cost

  2. 2.Over-dependent on computers, security issues

  3. 3.Not beneficial to SMEs at early adoption stage

  4. 4.Might have heavy impact to accountant profession* (focus of our research)

XBRL Samples

XBRL Formatted Financial Reports

Raw XML, IFRS, independent instance

XBRL Application View

XBRL in FR creation software, UBmatrix

XBRL FR on data server based Website

EDGAR Online, US

XBRL Glossary

XBRL Taxonomy: the digital vocabulary for the tagging to refer to

XBRL Instance Document: the XBRL formatted file that contains financial information

XBRL Validation: the process to check whether an instance document is accurate in XBRL grammar and mathematical calculations between related values 

Other technical related: Specifications, Dimensions, Tuples.. more

XBRL Milestones

1.0, DTDs based

2.0 & 2.1, XML Schema substitution groups on validation

2003, SBR, multi agency taxonomy and communication infrastructure, NTP

2008, XBRLS, simplified version, Charlie Hoffman and Rene van Egmond

Official Websites

Why should I know about XBRL?

For professional Accountants, you’ll find out that you have to learn about it, because the government has mandated XBRL. In the UK, all tax fillings has to be submitted in XBRL format from 2011. Yet, in short term, companies can rely on XBRL translation (from non-XBRL FR) services provided by other accounting companies. i.e. out-sourcing.

For Financial Analysts, you’ll find out that gradually XBRL will become one of your best friends. With XBRL application software, doing data analysis including data collecting would become a piece of cake, realised by simple, swift yet powerful clicks on the pc.

For Investors, more XBRL tools will become available to analysis the performance of a company and predict future profits. Many stock exchange systems has already used XBRL to provide powerful graphic tools to compare financial reports automatically.

For Researchers in finance, accounting, economics or more generally business studies, the availability of XBRL formatted financial data making it much easier to collect historical financial data and quickly perform complex analysis with XBRL software application tools, comparing with previous dealing with paper or PDF formatted reports from the library. XBRL will let us to explore deeper in our researches than ever before.    


Official Definitions of XBRL

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XBRL World Adoption Map (XBRL Planet)