XBRL is the specification for eXtensible Business Reporting Language and allows to create, exchange, and compare business reporting information. Business reporting includes financial statements, financial information, non-financial information, general ledger transactions and regulatory filings, such as annual and quarterly reports.
XBRL provides users with a standard file format to prepare reports with exchangeable business information for different applications. It facilitates automated comparison of financial information, accounting policies, notes to financial statements and more. The purpose is an electronic transmission of a set of facts. A single fact can form the entire content of a valid instance. This provides reusable flexibility within other specifications or to extract data from formatted documents.
An XBRL Taxonomy is a collection of taxonomy schemas and linkbases. A taxonomy schema is an XML schema document and Linkbases are XML documents which follow the XLink specification. The schema must ultimately extend the XBRL instance schema document and typically extend other published XBRL schemas on the xbrl.org website.
- Taxonomy schemas define Item and Tuple “concepts” using <xsd:element> elements. These concepts provide names for the fact and indicate whether or not it is a tuple or an item, the data type (such as monetary, numeric, fractional, or textual), and potentially more metadata. Items and Tuples can be regarded as “implementations” of concepts, or specific instances of a concept. A good analogy for those familiar with object oriented programming would be that Concepts are the classes and Items and Tuples are Object instances of those classes. This is the source of the use of the “XBRL instance” terminology.
- Linkbases are a collection of Links, which themselves are a collection of locators, arcs, and potentially resources. Locators are elements that essentially reference a concept and provide an arbitrary label for it. Arcs are elements indicating that a concept links to another concept by referencing the labels defined by the locators. Some arcs link concepts to other concepts. Other arcs link concepts to resources, the most common of which are human-readable labels for the concepts. The XBRL 2.1 specification defines five different kinds of linkbases.
The scope of the eXtensible Business Reporting Language includes financial reporting in extensive detail of accounting conventions. XBRL uses the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations, XML 1.0 [XML], Namespaces in XML [NAMESPACES], and refers directly to XML Linking [XLINK].