XML files Introduction to XBRL
What is XBRL?
The short answer is that XBRL (short for eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is an XML-based standard for handling corporate financial information.
For a more complete definition I'll leave it to the experts. From XBRL International's website:
XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) is an electronic format for simplifying the flow of financial statements, performance reports, accounting records, and other financial information between software programs. This royalty-free, open specification is being developed collaboratively to make it less costly for companies to publish financial information in a format that can be easily viewed and used by management, investors, regulators, and all of the participants in financial markets. It is an XML-based framework that provides the financial community a standards-based method to prepare, publish in a variety of formats, reliably extract and automatically exchange the financial statements of public and private companies, public sector agencies. XBRL enhances the usability and transparency of financial information reported under existing accounting standards, simplifies disclosure, and allows companies to communicate financial information more readily via the Internet.
In simple terms, XBRL is trying build upon the foundation that XML provides for data manipulation, specifically for those dealing with financial data. It is designed to provide a platform-independent way of describing, transferring, and utilizing financial information.