XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) is an XML-based computer language for the electronic transmission of business and financial data. The goal of XBRL is to standardize the automation of business intelligence (BI).
XBRL is an open standard which is overseen by a not-for-profit organization called XBRL International. XBRL uses tags to describe and identify each item of data in an electronic document. The tags allow computer programs to sort through data and analyze relationships quickly and generate output in various formats. Because the tags are standardized, analysis can be conducted across multiple documents from multiple sources, even if the text in the documents is written in different languages.
By 2011, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has mandated that all public companies must report their earnings using XBRL.
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- The International Accounting Standards Board has an excellent tutorial that explains how XBRL works.