Chapter 3. Glancing at XBRL's Parts

In This Chapter

  • Grasping the big picture of what makes up XBRL

  • Realizing that standards all boils down to agreement

  • Taking a look at new age business information exchange

  • Discovering the fundamentals of XBRL taxonomies and XBRL instances

You may have heard the phrase, "Spare me the details; just give me the 50,000 foot perspective." That's what this chapter is all about: XBRL's big picture. We also introduce you to XBRL's sometimes-baffling terminology.

In this chapter, we give you a grounding in the new age of business information exchange that XBRL is ushering in. We emphasize the key ingredient that makes XBRL work, which is probably a lot simpler than you think: agreement.

Explaining XBRL in the Elevator, at the Water Cooler, or to Your Boss

Say that you were riding on an elevator, and someone said, "Hey, I just found out I have to do my reporting in some funny-named format called XBRL to such-and-such regulatory agency. But I don't even know what the heck it is. Do you know anything about XBRL?" You have about two minutes to answer before the doors ding, and you have to exit the elevator. Here's about as simple an explanation of XBRL that you can give:

"XBRL is an acronym for the Extensible Business Reporting Language. XBRL is a freely available, market-driven, open, global standard markup language, backed by a formal technical specification. You can use XBRL to define and model the meaning of business information so that computer applications can ...

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