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Wanna grok XBRL?

October 6, 2006 16:42 by

I’ve got my XBRL consortium hat firmly on here.

I know we are starting to get the attention of the technical community when W3C folk like Dan Connolly start posting del.icio.us comments like this one:

XBRL specifications

nice use of URIs… their schemas resolve, they have good persistence policies in their schemas. nice looking test suites. Looks like quality work. Hmm… their use of taxonomies goes beyond XML Schema and uses XLink; I wonder if it maps nicely to RDF/OWL

Thanks Dan! There will be a lot of people that have worked really hard over a number of years glad to hear you say it. And these posts here and here from Tim Bray, really help the cause.

But like Tim says, XBRL is not exactly the simplest thing to get your hands around. We set out to capture the semantics of business reporting. Not a subset of it, and that means that 80/20 has never really worked for us. We didn’t think that investors or corporations would be very grateful if we had said “XBRL lets you instantly, accurately and unambiguously define and disseminate some of what you want to disclose to the market.” So the specification turned out to be a bit bigger than anyone would really have liked.

Furthermore, real users working in real projects, from Korea to Spain, to the UK, Canada and the US want more! Like versioning, formula, functions and (gulp) rendering. So, in April the International Steering Committee announced the creation of the XBRL Standards Board, charged with improving the quality, consistency and stability of XBRL International IP. XBRL’s technical product has always had some formal guidelines to help things along, but now that the standard is in such extensive use, it’s far more important that we consult at each step, take account of what the market has developed independently and really focus on how easy the work is to implement.

So right now, inside the consortium’s mailing lists, we are consulting on a technical roadmap, a brand new, shiny set of policies and procedures (modelled on what we thought were the best bits of OASIS and W3C practices) and are calling for participation in a number of brand new working groups.

Not a member? Join! It doesn’t matter where you are, your contribution can make a difference.

Work at one of the 480 organisations that are already members and want to get stuck in? Great!

Either way, sign-up for one or more of the Working Groups. There is no better way to really understand a standard than to be part of its development (even if you are just lurking in the background). While the XBRL 2.1 specification is stable, these new work products (like formula, functions and versioning) are all new (optional but very useful) modules to XBRL. You can get involved from the ground up. And learn about the base specification while you go along. See you soon in a working group conference call! Or come along to Philly!

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