Conceptual Model of a Digital Financial Report

Computers are machines. Key to making computer serve you is understanding how computers work. Key to that is understanding the problem solving logic capabilities of computers and how to use business rules to get computers to do what you want. Proper engineering and attention to detail allows one to create knowledge based systems which leverage intelligent agent technologies that can be used to work with digital financial reports.

This page documents the conceptual model of a digital financial report. Documentation is provided in both human-readable form and machine-readable form.  The conceptual model is tested and proven by three separate software implementations. The conceptual model is implement in the General Business Reporting XBRL Application Profile.  Remember that a financial report is a type of business report.

The essence of this model is documented in human readable form in the Financial Report Semantics and Dynamics Theory. To best understand this conceptual model, understanding that document is essential. This set of principles outlines what this conceptual model is trying to achieve. When properly implemented and employed, zero-defect XBRL-based intelligent digital financial reports are the result. To understand what you can achieve by using the conceptual model, see Putting the Expertise into an XBRL-based Knowledge Based System for Creating Financial Reports. To understand the sorts of processes you can build using this conceptual model, see Process of Verifying Quality of an XBRL-based Financial Report. To understand the type of software you can create using this model or download and use that software, see Pesseract.

This conceptual model was tested by reverse-engineering XBRL-based financial reports submitted by public companies to the SEC. The document Making the Case for Reporting Styles documents this. Two other helpful documents that relate to disclosures are documentation for my campaign to improve disclosure quality and the documentation of disclosure best practices.

Here is the current working copy of the conceptual model of a digital financial report implemented in the XBRL technical syntax:

Conceptual model of a digital financial report: documentation | XBRL-based metadata | visual image.

Relationships documentation: general arcrolesrules arcroles

Profiles: A profile, or application profile, is basically an approach to representing a reporting scheme. The following reporting scheme profiles are supported by this one conceptual model: (This document has a comparison of profiles used by different financial reporting schemes.)

  • US GAAP: (rss) reporting by public companies to the SEC.
  • US GAAP-SMEs: reporting by private companies.
  • IFRS-FULL: IFRS as used by listed companies generally.
  • IFRS-SMEs: IFRS as used by small and medium private entities.
  • XASB: An imaginary reporting scheme, unconstrained by US GAAP or IFRS architectural choices, used for testing and prototyping.
  • General profile: Not related to any specific reporting scheme, can be used as an architecture for any reporting scheme.  This profile is tested and proven to work correctly.

Business rules metadata: This is XBRL-based metadata for different type of business rules for four different reporting schemes/reporting profiles which use this conceptual model.

  • Report: A report provides information about the financial position and financial condition of an economic entity.  A reoprt contains disclosures.
  • Disclosures: The disclosures is simply things that can be disclosed.
  • Topics: The topics are simply ways of grouping disclosures.
  • Template library: A template library is simply a set of example disclosures for fragments of a financial report. 
  • Reference implementation: The reference implementation tests all the rules to make sure that everything works as expected.
  • Model structure relations: The model structure tests the relationships between the Networks, Tables (or hypercubes), Axes (or dimensions), Members, Line items (or primary items), and concepts that make up the XBRL presentation relations of an XBRL taxonomy.
  • Type or class relations: The type or class relations test how specific concepts are used relative to other specific concepts. 
  • Fundamental accounting concept relations:  The fundamental accounting concept relations are continuity tests to make sure concepts are used correctly relative to other concepts in a report.
  • Disclosure mechanics: The disclosure mechanics rules test the logical, structural, and specific mathematical relations related to specific disclosures.
  • Reporting checklist: The reporting checklist rules test for the existence of specific disclosures relative to certain reported line items or relative to other reported disclosures. A reporting checklist explains what must be disclosed.
  • Disclosure exemplars: An exemplar is simply an example of how to create a disclosure.
  • Economic entities: An economic entity is some who creates a report to communicate the financial position and financial condition of the entity.

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To understand the conceptual model, you must understand the multidimensional model of a business report.  This blog post provides information related to understand this multidimensional model of a business report.  This set of videos helps you understand that model in more detail: facts, characteristics, relations, components, renderings, and blocks.

To understand the need for such a conceptual model, background information is critical to help you understand why.  Framework for Understanding Digital Financial Report Mechanics provides this background. Those several documents lay the foundation necessary.

If you like to learn by reverse engineeringthings, start with the XBRL instance (company-instance.xml) in this ZIP Archive which provides a local copy of all business rules.

history of the past twenty or thirty years of trying to represent conceptual models is necessary to understand the technology that is best for representing and processing information.  This 222 slide presentation, Semantic Web Rules: Fundamentals, Applications, and Standards, provides that history and where things ended up.  This presentation gives you more specific information about Rulelog.

Note that this model is technology independent and could also be represented using the RDF/OWL or semantic web stack approach.