- XBRL in 2015: A Technical View

What an exciting year 2015 has been for XBRL!

Regulators became more receptive and entities more responsive. While the European Union made a move towards Capitals Markets Reunion, Columbia joined the movement by adopting XBRL. New taxonomies were released and mandates floated. With XBRL making huge progress around the world, here’s a quick recap of some important technical updates the standard saw in 2015.

1. The Open Information Model (OIM) Initiative kicks off

XII started the year with one of its biggest initiatives: The Open Information Model (OIM) . In February 2015, XII kicked off OIM, intended to make XBRL easier to use. XBRL in its current form is tightly coupled with XML syntaxes which at times dilute the semantics. OIM addresses the issue of separating syntax from semantics by looking to produce a syntax-independent model for XBRL. One of its goals is to come up with a logical model for XBRL which can also be transformed readily into other formats. This is certainly an area to watch out for in 2016.

2. XBRL GL 2015 attains recommendation status

While 2014 ended with the XBRL GL Framework in the Candidate Recommendation status, 2015 has seen the framework rise to the next level by attaining Recommendation status. The XBRL GL framework allows capturing of different kinds of data like journal entries, customer information, inventory records etc. at the transactional level. Updates to the tuple model, additions to the Summary Reporting Contextual Data (SRCD) module, editorial corrections and bug fixes were the main enhancements in the new XBRL GL Framework.

3. Multi-Language labels released for XBRL GL 2015

June 2015 witnessed another important milestone: The release of additional packages of multi-language labels to support the XBRL GL Framework 2015. The packages provide translation of all the labels in Brazilian, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian and Spanish and partial translation in Finnish, Canadian French, and Turkish. These labels are in addition to the English and Japanese labels already supported in XBRL GL 2015.

4. Specifications moving to Proposed Recommendation status

The last quarter of the year saw two specifications attaining the Proposed Recommendation status.

a. Taxonomy Packages Specification: This specification aims to make XBRL taxonomies easier for end users to work with. It provides a standard syntax for taxonomy metadata descriptions, entry point listing and URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) remapping. This specification which was under the public working draft stage in 2014 gained proposed recommendation status in Dec 2015.

b. Assertions Severity Specification: This specification is a modular addition to the XBRL Formula Specifications. It helps to categorize rules as ERROR, WARNING or OK and would be included as part of the Formula specification suite.

These specifications are now only a step away from becoming a final recommendation. Your feedback and comments on these specifications can be provided to XII.

Apart from these important milestones around XBRL specifications, there were also some guidance notes from XII this year related to following:

Technical Considerations in the use of XBRL Dimensions.

XBRL Dimension specification is comprehensive enough to cover various reporting scenarios and provides a lot of features. However, there are several features in the specification which either do not have much practical implementation or lead to undesirable results if not used carefully. The XII guidance document released in March 2015 lists out these issues, and provides guidance, wherever possible, on if and how such features should be used, wherever possible.

Duplicates in XBRL Working Group Note

XBRL reports may sometimes contain duplicate facts, i.e. the same fact may be reported more than once with the same or different values. This Working Group note released in December, provides information on how and when duplicates can occur and guidance on how to tackle them in different kinds of projects.

Apart from the ones listed above, there were few more technical updates in 2015 like the XII Transformation Registry 3 moving to Recommendation status, Streaming Extensions moving to Candidate Recommendation and updates on Table Linkbase Conformance suite and Inline XBRL 1.1 Primer.