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The XBRL project, formerly XFRML, a cooperative effort bringing together the accounting profession internationally, has issued its request for comment on 4/6/2000. This will be huge! Participants include:
CPA firmsProfessional associationsInvestmentHardware and Software vendorsAccounting Software Developers
Arthur Andersen, Crowe Chizek, Deloitte Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PriceWaterhouse Coopers AICPA, CICA, IASC, ICAA, IMA Edgar Online, Moodys, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Reuters, Standard & Poors IBM, Interleaf, Microsoft, Oracle Caseware, Epicor, Great Plains, Hyperion, Lawson, Navision, Sage, SAP
XBRL - the Extensible Business Reporting Language - replaces the former code-name of XFRML - the XML-based Financial Reporting Markup Language. This reflects the design goals that the language be extensible and not just XML-based, as well as reaching out beyond financial reporting to internal and external business reporting needs.

XML News Feed

XML News from Moreover


XML is poised to change the way accounting information is transferred: on the Internet, within organizations, and between organizations. Keep watching this site for news, updates, resources, and links of interest to accountants and financial professionals. Of particular importance - Microsoft's use of XML in its upcoming business-to-business commerce tools, called BizTalk.
Key terms to help you hold your own in an XML conversation
DTD or Document Type Definition. A DTD provides structural rules for a specific set of XML documents.
Valid. A valid document adheres to the specific rules of its associated DTD. As opposed to just:
Well-formed. A well-formed document follows the general syntax of XML. Well adjusted does not necessarily describe your average XML-er.

XML samples

from XML for CPAs ...

XML versus ASCII

"But, Eric! What's the big deal here? If everyone agree on a structure for an ASCII file, we could have created a standard for exchanging accounting data a long time ago."
    There has been a strong voice saying that XML buys nothing in the transfer of accounting information between systems - that if we had just had agreement before, we could have done the same with ASCII.
    I strongly disagree. Here's why.
  1. XML is based on Unicode, not ASCII. That means it is far easier to use non-English languages and words.

  2. OK. Low blow? You now say it could have been done in Unicode without XML.
  3. XML is extensible. That means the same file that contains all the data you might need for data transfer can also have other information with additional fields for internal requirements that will be ignored by external systems.

  4. I suppose you could argue that the Unicode agreement could just cover the first 1000 characters of an ASCII - er, Unicode - record, and anything after the agreed on standard could be used for additional fields. But that is really ugly, and makes the file very difficult to read, print, or work with.
  5. XML is object-oriented and can use attributes for selection and filtering.

  6. In the AddFast! Protocol we have presented, you may see where alternative words for the names of the chart of accounts are available by foreign language by choosing the language you want. How would options like different names and structures be so easily built into ASCII ^h^h^h^h^h^h Unicode?
  7. ASCII is not self-describing, does not work with the DOM model, and has no "easy-to-use" tools like IE5 or XSL that understands the basic structure and lets you easily expand, collapse, and traverse the tree.

  8. ASCII/Unicode remains a useless string of characters EXCEPT TO the import tool that understands the data structure. The same is NOT true of an XML file. It is self-describing, DOM-based, and the tools are growing.
  9. ASCII does not have tools to verify that the XML file is appropriately constructed.

  10. The DTDs and emerging schema and other definition files help verify the proper structure (and potentially typing, appropriate ranges, etc.) of an XML file. You don't know that an ASCII file is correct until it fails to import.
"But, Eric! What's the big deal here? I go to any number of web pages that use one database and deliver a number of filtered and sorted reports off that page."
  1. There is no database at work here.
  2. The data itself is not in a proprietary data format. If you can Unicode it, you can include it.
  3. Your XML browser does not receive a formatted document, where the information has been formatted only for humans to read it. You receive the data file, which can then be manipulated in any number of ways or transferred into other systems.
  4. The DTDs shown can make this into a STANDARD; any system, any database, can understand and use this data that has adopted the XML standard.
  5. Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Oracle, Novell, Netscape - they are all introducing support for this! Companies from Adobe to Xyvision (sorry, couldn't find a "Z") throw their support behind XML!
  6. No ODBC, no API, no being tied to one platform, vendor, database ...

ADFST: Accounting Data and Financial Statement Transfer - the AddFast Attempt

What if you could hit "Export to XML" from one accounting product and "Import from XML" in another? Perhaps if you had a file in an accepted, standardized format that contained transactions, accounting period information and class breaks, you could. Here is .9 of ADFST for your comments and ideas.

BaseBXml: The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers

Lovingly hand-coded by Eric E. Cohen, CPA, XML

One XML file, three presentations. Your comments and ideas for improvement appreciated!

Financial statements

An early attempt of mine, superceded by my work on the AICPA project. These are very simple examples. Using XSL you can sort, filter, and present the same data in an unlimited number of ways. Using Java, Javascript or VBScript, you can more easily show how one data file can be effected by different stylesheets, sorted at will, or tranformed from financial statement to financial statement.
  • Financial data in plain XML
  • Simple Chart of Accounts using XSL on the data
  • Filtered chart Same data file, using XSL as a filter
  • Financial DTD for your amusement