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.


  1. Jim;

    You are right, it is expensive for an SEC filer to create the XBRL they need to submit to the SEC. But it can be far less expensive and I belive it will be, the market will see to that.

    All that SEC XBRL financial information could also be significantly easier to use. It will take the FASB and the SEC changing some things which will require the filers to do some things differently; or the filers themselves could change somethings and make using the information easier.

    Trying to get the FASB and SEC to change is very possible, but will take time. I personally belive that leading SEC filers in the right direction could be easier. Pushing on quality will lead the filers to where they need to be, I belive.

    I have dug deep into the issues I am sure you are concerned about, or will be. They are laid out in the document referred to on this page of my blog:

    Read the introduction and scan the details and let me know if you believe that the ideas in this document are a step in the right direction.



  2. @Charlie. Thanks for your comments. I will take a look at the document you mention.

  3. Great blog - finally something geared to consumers of XBRL data as opposed to accountants/auditors attempting to PREPARE reports in XBRL.

    Combined with tools such as PowerPivot for Excel, XBRL appears to open up a world of possibilities, but for fundamental analysts like me who don't have programming experience, it is still difficult. We need some kind of tutorial on how to take the various XBRL/XML files that are submitted with a filing and make sense of the data.

  4. @Anonymous. Thanks for your kind comments. Keep watching this space.....!