What is a Specification? What is a Recommendation?

XBRL International publishes documents that define business reporting technologies in use by regulators and regulated companies, governments, businesses of all sizes and within large and medium sized enterprises. The development of these specifications follow a process designed to promote consensus, fairness, public accountability and quality. During this process, the document will be published at various draft statuses for public review and comment. The end of the process is publication as a Recommendation, a stable specification which is considered suitable for broad adoption and implementation.

What is the process that a Specification goes through before becoming a Recommendation?

New specifications are initially discussed as "Working Group Working Drafts" and "Internal Working Drafts" within the consortium and then released as "Public Working Drafts" for initial public review.

After a careful process of review, they are then released as "Candidate Recommendations" and a "Call for Implementations" issued. This is an indication that the specification now meets all identified requirements, and is ready for implementation in software.

The process of implementing the specification will often yield minor issues in the specification requiring updates to the specification which are released as further Candidate Recommendations.

Once sufficient implementation and deployment experience has been gathered and it is believed that no additional development of a specification is necessary, the specification will be re-issued as a Proposed Recommendation, with an associated final Call for Review. If no further issues are identified, the specification will be re-issued without further changes as an XBRL Recommendation.

Recommendations are stable, and will only be updated with errata corrections for defects uncovered in the drafting.

What are Working Group Notes?

XBRL International’s technical Working Groups, from time to time, publish Working Group Notes intended to explain or amplify aspects of XBRL technologies.

These are not specifications, but may document best practice or offer additional explanation of details of a specification.

What are the conformance suites and how should they be used?

Each XBRL Specification is published with an accompanying conformance suite. Conformance suites contain a series of expected inputs and outputs that are used to automatically confirm that software correctly implements particular aspects of the specification.

Conformance suites should be used by software developers as an aid to ensuring that their software conforms to the specification and will be interoperable with other implementations.

What is the XBRL Standards Board?

The XBRL International Standards Board is the group charged with the oversight of the XBRL Standards making process and is drawn from leading members of the technical community. The Standards Board has significant independence in its actions, and creates and sets the direction of technical Working Groups comprised of experts in specific fields and that develop or maintain individual XBRL specifications.

Where should I send comments about a Specification?

Specifications that have been published at a draft status (Public Working Draft, Candidate Recommendation, Proposed Recommendation, or Proposed Edited Recommendation) are open to public comment. Comments must be submitted by email to the address specified in the "Status of this Document" section of the draft.