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EDGAR Online Creates Repository for Financial Statements Tagged in XBRL.

IMAGINE A SOURCE FOR FINDING ANY COMPANY'S financial information coded in XBRL. Think about the time you'll save by downloading this information directly into databases and spreadsheets without re-keying the information. EDGAR Online, Inc., soon will make that dream come true.

EDGAR Online, Inc., recently announced that it's establishing the first public repository for company financial statements in XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) format. (See last month's column.) It also announced it has hired Liv A. Watson, a member of the IMA's Technology Committee, as director to establish and manage the repository. The EDGAR Online XBRL Repository will provide a single source for analysts, investors, credit and lending institutions, news organizations, and accountants to find any company financials prepared and published in this format.

Watson says, "Our goal is to establish the first XBRL repository and go live early next year. The incorporation of XBRL will allow EDGAR Online, Inc., to provide superior services to companies, analysts, investors and other audiences allowing for more informed financial and management decisions."

John Taysom, founder and co-CEO of the Reuters Greenhouse Fund, a strategic investor in EDGAR Online, Inc., added: "This move looks set to solidify EDGAR On-line's position in SEC-based data. Reuters is deeply committed to helping develop the new standards which will become critical to sophisticated users of news and financial data."

For more information, visit

Bryant College Opens XBRL Educational Resource Center

On January 31, 2001, Bryant College opened the XBRL Educational Resource Center. The celebration included lectures, demonstrations, and workshops on the future of electronic business reporting, XBRL. The XBRL Educational Resource Center's mission will include:

1. Educating users and potential users about XBRL and how it will help their businesses. This will include short courses, full-day courses, instructional material, articles, academic studies, and more.

2. Providing resources for the academic community in the form of course materials, teaching materials, demo software, and workshops for faculty on how to incorporate XBRL into current and future courses.

You can visit the Bryant College XBRL Educational Resource Center at

XBRL Basics: Elements

The driving force behind the power of XML is that you or your company, by using a defined set of markup tags, can encode your documents with information that precisely describes your data. Computer programs and humans can then read the data, and both parties will understand the message.

Contrast the above with the state-of-the-art in financial statement presentation today, the company Web page. The flat representations of financial statements, written in HTML, give the reader blobs of text. XBRL-enabled financial statements replace text blobs with XML-coded financial information, producing rich documents that are machine readable as well as human readable. XBRL gives financial information the added ability to be transported directly into computer applications such as a database or a spreadsheet while retaining 100% of the original information. This means that programs processing XBRL documents can "understand" them much better and process the information in ways that are impossible with HTML (or ordinary text processor documents).

It's Elemental, Mr. Watson The XML specification calls for the use of elements to describe the information in XBRL. Elements are fundamental units of XML content that contain author-specified chunks of data. Using start tags and end tags, elements detail the logical components of an XML document.

The shaded section at the top of the page shows a segment of the taxonomy XBRL for Financial Statement for US Commercial and Industrial Companies, released July 31, 2000, and modified by Great Plains, Inc.

XBRL uses elements to name accounting, business, and financial concepts. Elements in XBRL come in three categories: annotation, appinfo, and import. XBRL uses annotation to document accounting concepts. The appinfo element holds "application-related" information typically read by a computer program. Information intended for use by computer software applications is also contained here. The [less than]rollup to=" ci:......"..[greater than] defines the parent/child relationship in the document.

XBRL uses the element function in XML to further define concepts, give instructions to computer programs, and identify other XBRL taxonomies that are used in a specific application of XML.

What's important for a financial professional to know about XBRL elements? The main idea is the one of extensibility. XBRL, as well as XML, can be extended to provide precise information. It will be rare when a published industry segment taxonomy will have ail the tags needed to create a complete instance of XBRL for every company. Financial professionals will need to know how to create extensions to the main documents and to know where they will fit in a correctly formed XBRL instance document.

XBRL.ORG Request for Requirements for XBRL Specification, Version 2.0 has announced a request for requirements for XBRL Specification, version 2.0. This is an open request for all users and developers of XBRL to submit ideas for "for the enhancement of the technical requirements for XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language)." Anyone who would like to comment on the XBRL specification is encouraged to read the announcement posted on Comments should be posted to the xbrl-public discussion group, located at

Neal Hannon has been writing and giving seminars about the Internet since 1996. He developed IMA's Internet Essentials for Financial Professionals, which has been delivered 50 times throughout the U.S. He is a member of the IMA's Information Technology Committee. Hannon has written a book, The Business of the Internet, as well as numerous articles for business magazines. He joined the steering committee in July 2000 and in August was named IMA's voting representative. In September, he was appointed cochair of's education committee.
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Title Annotation:eXtensible Business Reporting Language
Author:Hannon, Neal
Publication:Strategic Finance
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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