Monday 31 October 2011

Where do I want to see XBRL?

To be frank, if I was an analyst, I would have no interest in viewing XBRL or more specifically the data in which it has been entwined. I don't want to view it, I want to use it, I want to add value to it. I want it in Excel. I still believe that's the best place for it, even if it comes via an intermediary database first. Analysts spent years persuading resistant data vendors to dig the data out of their databases and let it flow into spreadsheets unencumbered by restrictive proprietary software. I don't believe this paradigm is going to change any time soon. Of course there are others who take a different view.

So I'm not going to spend much time talking about the merits of one viewer over another but rather whether they can assist me in getting the data to where I want it. I will note that the only free viewers that are supported (i.e. where there are signs of ongoing development) are all web based and all use the open source code originally made available by Rivet Software at the behest of the SEC.

So don't bother with Rivet Software's Dragon View or XBRL View, both of which are desktop based but are unsupported.

I'm gonna stop here because I prefer to keep my posts short and punchy. There will be a stream of posts coming out over the next few days (well maybe not a stream - more like 2) looking at the viewers.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Making XBRL Accessible

Now that the SEC have a heap of expensively produced documents piling up that perhaps people are struggling to analyse, they have turned to the Spanish authorities for inspiration. XBRL Spain announced a competition at the beginning of the summer to create a piece of open source software that would make some sense of this stuff. Not to be outdone, The SEC announced their own competition in July with a closing date of the end of January 2012 (Edit: The competition was actually instigated by, a body set up to administer and promote the use of XBRL in the US). Sadly, the results for the Spanish competition were not “as expected”.

In the meantime all is not lost. Fortunately, many of the people who created this behemoth of a standard, have kindly offered their services to various software & consultancy companies, or even started their own. So you can buy whatever solution you need!

In the coming weeks I will be looking at how these various offerings, free or otherwise might help us to unlock all that XBRL loveliness.