Structure for Business Data |
This month the JofA begins a series of articles exploring how XBRL can help CPAs, their clients and employers, financial institutions, regulators, rating agencies and individual and institutional investors issue or obtain business information in a standardized format for sharing and viewing in any order on any computer system.
| se of XBRL is gathering momentum. In September
2004, investors, analysts, public companies and other securities
market participants—including CPAs—took note of the SEC’s
announcement it will permit public companies to submit their
mandatory filings in XBRL format. This step by the SEC is only
the latest to demonstrate the steady acceptance of the
extensible business reporting language since XBRL International
Inc., a nonprofit business consortium that includes the AICPA,
introduced it in 1999. More than 250 of the world’s leading
organizations—including Morgan Stanley, Microsoft Corp., major
accounting firms and accounting institutes—have embraced XBRL
and supported its adoption. |
References to the XML specification and XML schema, or database structure.
References to the XBRL taxonomy and any additional taxonomies that may be required to describe all the XBRL tags used in a specific instance document.
References. Documentation of the data elements the instance document describes.
Definitions. The location on a balance sheet where the data elements reside.
Calculations and formulas. Instructions on how the data elements should be calculated in relation to other such elements described in the instance document.
Presentation. Details on any descriptive labels that should be applied to the data elements, including the language—for example, German—in which they should be reported.
Contexts. Other information—for example, the type of currency, accounting period covered or other identifying facts—necessary to put the data elements in proper context.
CREATE ONCE, USE REPEATEDLY
NEAL J. HANNON, CMA, is a lecturer in accounting and management systems at the Barney School of Business of the University of Hartford in Connecticut. His e-mail address is email@example.com. ROBERT J. GOLD, CPA, is a principal of R.J. Gold & Company PC in Waltham, Massachusetts. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
group’s Web site (
The AICPA Web site ( www.aicpa.org) provides XBRL-related resources such as
An explanation of why CPAs need to be involved in XBRL, how it will help those in industry and public practice, and descriptions of potential XBRL uses—such as in financial statements, tax returns, regulatory filings, accounting and business reports, authoritative literature and audit schedules ( www.aicpa.org/innovation/baas/xbrl/homepage.asp).
A Web-based video, “XBRL—Real Solutions, Real Time” ( www.aicpa.org/video/xbrl).
“ A Napster for Financial Data?” Jan.03, page 66.
“ Tap Into XBRL’s Power the Easy Way,” May04, page 32.
The World Wide Web Consortium’s site provides information about the extensible markup language (XML), of which XBRL is a subset ( www.w3.org/xml).
The 11th XBRL International Conference will be held in Boston, April 25–29, 2005 ( www.xbrl.org/upcomingevents).
Grasp the fundamentals to see how businesses use XBRL today.
BY NEAL J. HANNON AND ROBERT J. GOLD
February 1, 2005