The other day I asked the question, Why use Inline XBRL? A key reason is that is easier for Accounting Software Vendors to implement.

Many accounting software vendors, the firms that produce most of the GL systems, accounts production packages and ERP systems on the market, don’t use XML (let alone XBRL) on a day-to-day basis. Many systems are starting to, but the majority of vendors are hugely reliant on databases and third generation languages in the construction and maintenance of their software, which has often been working reliably for decades.

Inline XBRL is simpler for most vendors to deal with than raw XBRL, in part because it is generally a two step process:

  1. get around to producing that HTML (strictly speaking XHTML) report output format that has been on the to-do list for the last 7 or 8 years, and
  2. wrap the facts that are coming out of the core database in some fairly simple Inline XBRL tags.

Those tags, of course, use the XBRL mapping that is a fundamental part of coming to grips with structured business reporting. Note that many of these vendors don’t need to deal with extension taxonomies, as their target market is the small and medium sized business. Those that do will still need to construct them appropriately. Hey it’s good, but it’s not a magic wand!

In the next blog we’ll round this mini-series out by suggesting that Inline XBRL simplifies the review process and improves the controls for companies as they prepare their accounts.