XBRL allows the definition, preparation and exchange of reporting information across organisational boundaries. It does so in a manner that can be validated at every point in the process. This is made possible through a number of interrelated technical specifications.
This section of the site is aimed at software developers looking to work directly with the XBRL Standard. Many developers choose to use one of the many available commercial or open source XBRL software packages to meet their requirements.
The articles linked from this page give an overview of how these specifications fit together to provide the XBRL standard. You can also browse the specifications directly, or see a list of documents published for review.
XBRL is built on a number of essential specifications that form the basis of all XBRL implementations. These specifications set out how to create and test the "metadata" parts of XBRL: taxonomies, concepts and dimensions, as well as the "data" components: instances and facts.
Much of the power of XBRL is derived from the ability to publish reporting requirements in a standard format. A number of additional specifications extend the functionality of the core specifications to provide additional structured reporting constraints, the standardisation of reported units, and to control the versioning of taxonomies.
Data quality can be greatly enhanced through multiple layers of validation. The XBRL standard provides the ability to design and publish business validation rules in a standardised format. Basic validation semantics can be represented in XBRL taxonomies using the core specifications. More complex constraints can be modelled using the Formula Specifications. These validation rules can be applied at the time of preparation of a report, as well as by all of the recipients of that report.
Different types of business reports have very different requirements for presenting data in a human-readable form. As a result XBRL provides a number of different solutions to the challenge of presenting XBRL data.
With the advent of Big Data technologies, XBRL is increasingly used to represent large data sets. There are a number of efforts under way that are designed to enable XBRL to work more effectively with very large reports and via alternate technologies.