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1XBRL Technical aspects !  Empty XBRL Technical aspects ! on Wed 26 Sep 2012 - 12:09


CSoC Master
CSoC Master
XBRL – a language for electronic communication:
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. It is an open standard, free of licence fees, being developed by a non-profit making international consortium. Other pages on this web site provide detailed information on XBRL, its technical features and its business opportunities.

XBRL does not cause a change in accounting standards: XBRL is simply a language for transmitting information. It must accurately reflect data reported under different standards – it does not change them.

Potential uses of XBRL:XBRL can be applied to a very wide range of business and financial data. Among other things, it can handle:

  • Company internal and external financial reporting.
  • Business reporting to all types of regulators, including tax and financial authorities, central banks and governments.
  • Filing of loan reports and applications; credit risk assessments.
  • Exchange of information between government departments or between other institutions, such as central banks.
  • Authoritative accounting literature – providing a standard way of describing accounting documents provided by authoritative bodies.

A wide range of other financial and statistical data which needs to be stored, exchanged and analysed. All types of organisations can use XBRL to save costs and improve efficiency in handling business and financial information. Because XBRL is extensible and flexible, it can be adapted to a wide variety of different requirements. All participants in the financial information supply chain can benefit, whether they are preparers, transmitters or users of business data.

How do companies create statements in XBRL:XBRL-aware accounting software products are becoming available which will support the export of data in XBRL form. These tools allow users to map charts of accounts and other structures to XBRL tags. Statements can be mapped into XBRL using XBRL software tools designed for this purpose. Data from accounting databases can be extracted in XBRL format. It is not strictly necessary for an accounting software vendor to use XBRL; third party products can achieve the transformation of the data to XBRL. Applications can transform data in particular formats into XBRL. For example, web sites are in operation that can transform filings into XBRL format The route which an individual company may take will depend on its requirements and the accounting software and systems it currently uses, among other factors.

Technical Side of XBRL:

XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is a freely available, market-driven, open, and global standard for exchanging business information. XBRL allows information modeling 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.

Information Modelling: An information model in software engineering is a representation of concepts, relationships, constraints, rules, and operations to specify data semantics for a chosen domain of discourse. It can provide sharable, stable, and organized structure of information requirements for the domain context.

XML: Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and several other related specifications (XML discussed in detail later).

XML Schema: Technically, a schema is an abstract collection of metadata, consisting of a set of schema components: chiefly element and attribute declarations and complex and simple type definitions. These components are usually created by processing a collection of schema documents, which contain the source language definitions of these components. In popular usage, however, a schema document is often referred to as a schema. Schema documents are organized by namespace: all the named schema components belong to a target namespace, and the target namespace is a property of the schema document as a whole. A schema document may include other schema documents for the same namespace, and may import schema documents for a different namespace. a document written in the XML Schema language, typically containing the “xsd” XML namespace prefix and stored with the “.xsd” filename extension.

XLink: XML Linking Language, or XLink, is an XML markup language and W3C specification that provides methods for creating internal and external links within XML documents, and associating metadata with those links.

XML Namespaces: XML namespaces are used for providing uniquely named elements and attributes in an XML document. They are defined in a W3C recommendation. An XML instance may contain element or attribute names from more than one XML vocabulary. If each vocabulary is given a namespace, the ambiguity between identically named elements or attributes can be resolved.

A simple example would be to consider an XML instance that contained references to a customer and an ordered product. Both the customer element and the product element could have a child element named id. References to the id element would therefore be ambiguous; placing them in different namespaces would remove the ambiguity.

An XML namespace is declared using the reserved XML pseudo-attribute xmlns or xmlns:prefix, the value of which must be a valid namespace name.

For example, the following declaration maps the “xhtml:” prefix to the XHTML namespace:

Any element or attribute whose name starts with the prefix “xhtml:” is considered to be in the XHTML namespace, if it or an ancestor has the above namespace declaration.

It is also possible to declare a default namespace. For example:

In this case, any element without a namespace prefix is considered to be in the XHTML namespace, if it or an ancestor has the above default namespace declaration.

Attributes are never subject to the default namespace. An attribute without an explicit namespace prefix is considered not to be in any namespace.

Elements and Attributes: Data can be stored in child elements or in attributes. For example:

1. <person gender=”female”>


2. <person>


In the first example gender is an attribute. In the second, gender is a child element. Both examples provide the same information. There are no rules about when to use attributes, and when to use child elements. Some of the problems with attributes are:

1. cannot contain multiple values (child elements can);

2. are not easily expandable (for future changes);

3. cannot describe structures (child elements can)

Taxonomy: Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. Typically this is organized by supertype-subtype relationships. For example: car is a subtype of vehicle, so any car is also a vehicle, but not every vehicle is a car. Therefore a type needs to satisfy more constraints to be a car than to be a vehicle. Another example: any shirt is also a piece of clothing, but not every piece of clothing is a shirt. Hence, a type must satisfy more parameters to be a shirt than to be a piece of clothing.

How XBRL Works: Instead of treating Financial Information as block of text, XBRL provides a computer readable tag to identify each individual item of data. Through the attachment of ‘Identifying Tags’ to individual pieces of data, a business reporting document becomes “intelligent data”, allowing the exchange of business reporting data by encoding the information in a meaningful way. Computer applications can use the XBRL data to recognise the information in XBRL document, select it, analyse it, store it, exchange it, with other computers and present it in various ways for the users. XBRL Tags are defined and maintained in ‘taxonomies’ which contain metadata (data about data). Taxonomies are the basis for tagging financial information in XBRL. A Taxonomy is an electronic classification system of tags defining thousands of business reporting concepts and their relationships. The Taxonomy provides organization and details for each concept, including labels, definitions, accounting balance (i.e. Dr. or Cr.), presentation and summation information.

Instance Document: An “Instance Document” is the end result of how a preparer creates XBRL Data. It contains report information typically complied from internal ERP or financial reporting systems that have been “marked up” or tagged in XBRL. XBRL is extensible (i.e. can be extended) since a preparer can create, define and describe new tags unique to its particular circumstances. Tagging financial data in XBRL is similar to use of Bar Codes as used for various products.


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