What ever happened to XBRL?

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In recent weeks, industry sources have asked what is happening to XBRL, the eXtensible Business Reporting Language that is supposed to be the next big thing in electronic financial reporting.

More specifically, questions are being asked about the progress of work to create a UK taxonomy that will enable preparers and users of accounts in this country to transmit and read financial statements over the internet. XBRL is basically a dictionary of XML-based financial data tags; the UK taxonomy describes and defines the data types so they can be correlated with a company's internal data needs, and those of international taxonomies, for example one catering for the information contained in International Financial Reporting Standards.

The Financial Services Authority recently raised XBRL's profile...

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By Anonymous
19th Apr 2004 17:19

XBRL Update - From The Inland Revenue
Whatever happened to XBRL? Well quite a lot actually as far as the Inland Revenue is concerned. We decided two years ago in consultation with accountancy firms, professional bodies and software vendors that an XBRL capability would be included as a part of our CT online filing service. We agreed a phased approach, with the initial e-filing service using XML to represent the CT600 Return form and using .pdf attachments for accounts and computations. This service was introduced on a trial basis in March 2003 and in now fully operational. The second phase, which will allow for accounts and computations in XBRL, is planned to be released in October 2004. We agreed this route because it brings benefits to both us and our customers.

XBRL has taken quite a long time to get to the point where it can really be made to work well but that is not unusual for emerging standards. We have given active support to the ICAEW (and subsequently XBRL UK which took over responsibility for the project) in the development of the UK GAAP taxonomy which is due for publication in May. Work is also well advanced with an Inland Revenue taxonomy (needed to support CT computations) and we have had enormous help from a number of accountancy firms, the ICAEW and software vendors, in checking its structure, depth and coverage. Our current plan is to use XBRL in our online filing service later this year. And we are already looking further ahead at ways of using XBRL to simplify CT obligations for smaller companies.

Dave Gostelow
Senior Press Officer
Inland Revenue

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19th Apr 2004 14:56

Thought leadership in digital reporting
We are very grateful to AccountingWeb for highlighting the work that the ICAEW’s IT Faculty is doing in facilitating XBRL UK (though XBRL UK is now an entity entirely independent of the Institute) and the recent major development regarding the FSA. As the article indicates, progress has been slower than we would have liked, due to resource constraints.
However, to add to Jeremy Wright’s comments, readers may be interested to know that, after the publication in May of the UK taxonomy, the ICAEW will be publishing a major "thought leadership" paper on Digital Reporting. This paper, scheduled for publication during the third quarter of this year, explores the broader issues that underlie some of the comments reported in the AccountingWeb news item. We hope this study will encourage further informed debate, as well as hasten progress towards the widespread adoption of digital reporting standards and techniques that make for better speed, efficiency, transparency and usability of financial information.

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21st Apr 2004 10:10

X-BRL
What does this all have to do with the unit of Brazilian Currency, the Real ?
its symbol is BRL and perhaps here we have an extension. ( XBRL )

PS the man at Exchequer is right.
that is why IAS will never really gain total acceptance either.
Too many vested interests in the Status Quo....

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15th Apr 2004 20:18

Just in case of further confusion ...
XBRL is not a "replacement" for XML, as noted below, it is simply one of very very many implementations of XML (which itself is a simplification of something called SGML).

Other implementations include MathML (for complex formulae etc), SVG for graphics, XHTML for web pages ... and so on, and so on.

Good on you, Accountingweb, for raising awareness, but patience, please. It's easy to forget that less than a decade ago hardly any of us had any experience whatsoever of the Internet and email.

My thinking is that XML-related applications will develop just as fast as they are truly needed. Regulation may create the need (see the article), but so may commercial considerations and competitive advantage. The more business exchanges there are, and the more that customers and suppliers need to be able to process each others' real-time information, instantly, simply to enable them to compare and compete effectively, the sooner this will happen for accountants.

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By Anonymous
16th Apr 2004 09:51

UK taxonomy available soon
Jeremy Wright, a director of XBRL UK, contacted AccountingWEB to make the following comments.

1. The UK taxonomy should be available by the end of May. The scheme will go out for review to the XBRL UK standards group, which includes accountants and software developers. Once it has passed this sanity check, it is scheduled to be published at the end of May.

"The reason it has not been updated so far was because on 8 January the new version of XBRL (2.1) was published and ratified. This provides a foundation for future taxonomies.

"We're far better advanced for GAAP taxonomy than most other companies in the world."

Wright said that the taxonomy was widely anticipated and that software developers such as Microsoft and SAP were building XBRL toolkits into their applications - including Microsoft Office. With this infrastructure, users in different countries will be able to plug in their national taxonomies to allow the financial data to be mapped across to taxonomies covering other GAAP.

A lot of interest - widely anticipated by all the software;

Wright suggested that looking ahead to a European IFRS taxonomy, was a very simplified approach. "IFRSs aren't unified across Europe and will not be by next year - so an EU IFRS taxonomy won't fix it," said Wright.

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16th Apr 2004 09:57

Invoices, orders, remittances = eBIS-XML
To answer Martin's question, there is a standard called eBIS-XML, administered by BASDA, which covers transactional documents such as orders, invoices and remittance slips.

I know of several UK developers, including Exchequer and Anagram, who use these message formats within their systems. There are also schemas based on eBIS-XML for specific industries including housebuilding and pensions.

You can find out more about eBIS-XML from the BASDA website (follow the "Working Parties" link).

John Stokdyk
Editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk

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16th Apr 2004 08:13

Simple things first in XML like everything else
Does anybody believe that something as complicated as an annual report can be published in XML before things like an invoice, payment advice or order can be standardised? At this stage we still do not have agreed standards widely used on the most basic financial documents.
As an aside, does anybody know if there are developing standards (at any stage of progress) for statements, or payment advice on dividends? This area is simpler, will solve more problems, etc. What a joy if all payments against invoices had electronic information indicating which invoice, saving much paperwork. AND THIS IS POSSIBLE NOW

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15th Apr 2004 16:20

Inland Revenue to use XBRL
Yes, I have heard of XBRL, it is expected to be a replacement for xml. The advantage with XBRL is that documents can be attached to a text file.
My company (producers of TaxChecker software) along with other providers has been involved in meetings with Inland Revenue on the subject of XBRL. IR intend to introduce XBRL as they see it as a solution to enable accountants to attach documents to files submitted electronically. It will be used in the next generation of electronic filing programs and Corporation Tax will be the first to use this (wonderful) technology.

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