XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is an open standard for exchanging Business Information. XBRL provides a semantic framework to encode the information usually communicated in Business Reporting.
Business data submitted as XBRL filings, that is, where information is annotated according to a predefined schema can be processed programmatically by computers. Extensibility is a very important aspect of the standard as the nature of business reporting requires is open ended.
Technology and Specifications
The XBRL Specification is developed and published by XBRL International. The first XBRL specification was published in 2000.
XBRL is primarily based on XML and associated technologies: XML Schema, XLink and XPointer. XML is a very general format, XBRL is actually a very constrained version.
- The Base XBRL Specification is 2.1
- The Inline XBRL Specification is 1.1
iXBRL (Inline XBRL) is a development of XBRL in which the XBRL metadata are embedded in an HTML document, e.g., a published report and accounts.
The core features of XBRL are:
- Taxonomies - the meta data describing reporting rules
- Instance documents - the physical report in XBRL format
The XBRL specification provides a high degree of flexibility in the creation of XBRL instance documents. Part of this flexibility stems from the use of XML as the underlying format. Part of it stems from the XBRL specification itself. Besides the creation of additional modules, XBRL International supports several methods for continuing expansion of shared XBRL functionality.
- Link Role Registry: This registry, hosted at xbrl.org, collects link roles and arc roles to promote reuse across taxonomies.
- Functions Registry: This registry collects XPath functions for reuse in formula linkbases.
- Transformation Rules Registry: This registry collects common transforms used to convert human-readable data in Inline XBRL documents (e.g. "1st January 2016") into the formats required by XBRL ("2016-01-01").
Regulatory filing rules and taxonomies represent collections of additional rules and guidance specifically applicable to remittance of XBRL instances for regulatory filings. These rules constrain the full flexibility of XBRL to enable effective interaction between transmitter and consumer of regulatory reports.
Issues and Challenges
- Collisions (multiple values for the same concept)
- Diverse regulatory filling rules and taxonomies may not be compatible and/or consistent
- SEC XBRL Glossary of Terms
- ESEF Reporting Manual, Preparation of Annual Financial Reports in Inline XBRL
- XBRL Taxonomy Development Handbook