eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)

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Introduction to eXtensible Business Reporting Language

The XBRL, short for eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is a freely available, market driven, open, and global standard for exchanging business information. XBRL enables information modeling and the expression of semantic meaning commonly requisite in business reporting. Moreover, XBRL is XML-based. It uses the XML syntax and related XML technologies like XML Schema, XLink, XPath, and Namespaces to articulate this semantic meaning. Also, the XBRL Specification is developed and published by XBRL International, Inc.

XBRL is a standards-based way for communicating and exchanging business information between business systems. These communications are delineated by metadata set out in XBRL Taxonomies, which capture the definition of individual reporting concepts in addition to the relationships between concepts and other semantic meaning. The info that is being communicated or exchanged is provided within an XBRL instance.


The latest version of XBRL is 2.1, with errata corrections. The normative version of all the XML Schemas is provided in the specification documents, not in separate files. A conformance suite is available to test processors of XBRL documents.

XBRL Document Structure

In general usage, XBRL comprises of an XBRL ‘instance’, including primarily business facts being reported, as well as a collection of taxonomies (referred as a Discoverable Taxonomy Set (DTS)), which delineate metadata about these facts, for instance the meaning of these facts and how they are related to one another. The main standards used in XBRL include XML Schema, XLink, and XPointer.

XBRL Modules

XBRL has issued as well as reissued a stability pledge related to the core XBRL2.1 specification. Besides the core XBRL2.1 specification, XBRL Modules defining new and compatible functionality are being worked upon. The most important modules include XBRL Dimensions 1.0, XBRL Formula 1.0, XBRL Rendering, and XBRL Versioning.


In addition to the creation of additional modules, XBRL International supports different methods for continued expansion of shared XBRL functionality. These include:

  • Link registry: Hosted at xbrl.org, this registry collects link roles and arc roles to encourage reuse across taxonomies.
  • Functions registry: This registry gathers XPath functions for reuse in formula link bases.
  • Format registry: This registry gathers common numeric formats to be reused in Inline XBRL applications.

Best Practice RFCs: These documents share common practices among community members for improving interoperability of design. 

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