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What is XBRL?

XBRL is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data which is revolutionizing business reporting around the world. It provides major benefits in the preparation, analysis and communication of business information. It offers cost savings, greater efficiency and improved accuracy and reliability to all those involved in supplying or using financial data. XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is already being put to practical use in a number of countries and implementations of XBRL are growing rapidly around the world.

Who developed XBRL?

XBRL is an open, royalty-free software specification developed by XBRL International. XBRL International is made up of over 140 global companies, including the world's leading accounting, technology, government and financial services bodies. XBRL is and will remain an open specification based on XML that is being incorporated into many accounting and analytical software tools and applications. For a current and comprehensive list of all companies participating in XBRL development, please go to, the website of XBRL International.

What are the advantages of XBRL?

XBRL offers major benefits at all stages of business reporting and analysis. The benefits are seen in automation, cost saving, faster, more reliable and more accurate handling of data, improved analysis and in better quality of information and decision-making. XBRL enables producers and consumers of financial data to switch resources away from costly manual processes, typically involving time-consuming comparison, assembly and re-entry of data. They are able to concentrate effort on analysis, aided by software which can validate and manipulate XBRL information. XBRL is a flexible language, which is intended to support all current aspects of reporting in different countries and industries. Its extensible nature means that it can be adjusted to meet particular business requirements, even at the individual organization level.

How will XBRL affect the various participants in their financial supply chain?

Those who stand to benefit include all who collect business data, including governments, regulators, economic agencies, stock exchanges, financial information companies and the like, and those who produce or use it, including accountants, auditors, company managers, financial analysts, investors and creditors. Among those who can take advantage of XBRL include accountancy software vendors, the financial services industry, investor relations companies and the information technology industry. XBRL will impact: Organizations that prepare financial statements More efficient preparation of financial statements because they will be created one time and rendered many times, be it to the printer, to lenders, private investors, on Web sites, or as regulatory filings. Analysts, Investors and Regulators Enhanced distribution and usability of existing financial statement information. Automated analysis, significantly less re-keying of financial information, transformation from one form into another, receiving information in the format you prefer for their specific style of analysis. Financial publishers and data aggregation More efficient data collection lowers operating costs associated with custom, idiosyncratic data feeds and reducing errors while concentrating on adding value to the data and increasing transaction capacity. Independent Software Vendors Virtually any software product that manages financial information could use XBRL for its data export and import formats, thereby increasing its potential for full interoperability with other financial and analytical applications.

What are the benefits of a company tagging their financial statements and putting them into the XBRL format?

XBRL increases the re-usability of financial statement information. Eventually the need to re-key financial data for analytical and other purposes should be virtually eliminated. This has the potential to reduce manual errors, and give companies the ability to proof and control their own data. As more tools are developed to take advantage of XBRL format information, and more companies embrace and support this new standard, financial information will be ready and available for next phase of web services.

Does XBRL cause a change in accounting standards?What is the future of XBRL?

No. The XBRL specifications will use and rely on the existing accounting standards around the world.

What is the future of XBRL?

XBRL is set to become the standard way of recording, storing and transmitting business financial information. It is capable of use throughout the world, whatever the language of the country concerned, for a wide variety of business purposes. It will deliver major cost savings and gains in efficiency, improving processes in companies, governments and other organizations.

How do companies create statements in XBRL?

There are a number of ways to create financial statements in XBRL:

  • XBRL-aware accounting software products are becoming available which will support the export of data in XBRL form. These tools allow users to map charts of accounts and other structures to XBRL tags.
  • Statements can be mapped into XBRL using XBRL software tools designed for this purpose.
  • Data from accounting databases can be extracted in XBRL format. It is not strictly necessary for an accounting software vendor to use XBRL; third party products can achieve the transformation of the data to XBRL.
  • Applications can transform data in particular formats into XBRL
The route which an individual company may take will depend on its requirements and the accounting software and systems it currently uses, among other factors.

Does XBRL benefit the comparability of financial statements?

XBRL benefits comparability by helping to identify data which is genuinely alike and distinguishing information which is not comparable.

What is the difference between XBRL and FpML, Fix, FinXML, OFX, XML/EDI?

All of these identified efforts are transaction-oriented specifications for specific purposes - except for XBRL. XBRL is reporting-oriented. All of these efforts are needed since they all serve different purposes. As these transaction-oriented specifications grow and develop, the need for business reporting that captures aggregate transactions becomes even more important. As a result, XBRL becomes more critical to organizations using XML technology.

Are all of these efforts neede Where can I find more information about XBRL?