Digital Financial Reporting

It takes hard work to master a model or create a theory.  A creator of a theory or model is attempting to discover the seemingly invisible principles that hide behind appearances. Theories don't simplify. Theories describe the principles by which the world operates. A theory or model is characterized by its intent: the discovery of essence.

It is easy to create something that is complex.  Creating something that is simple and elegant takes hard work and skill.  Theories or models make things easier to understand.  Theories and models articulate rules that anyone can then follow.

Rene van Egmond and I have been collaborating, trying to figure out how to properly employ XBRL for financial reporting since the very first XBRL International meeting in 1999.  Rene has a strong technical background; I have a strong financial reporting background with an ability to understand the details of the technology. We both know people all around the world who know bits and pieces about XBRL.  We have both looked at this information attentively.  We have both looked at it closely and deliberately.  I was funded by UBmatrix to do nothing else but understand XBRL for over 12 years and took full advantage of that opportunity.  I worked with world class accountants on creating both the IFRS and US GAAP XBRL taxonomies. I was very lucky and am grateful for that opportunity.

Rene and I have taken what we have learned, organized and synthesized it into this resource.
This resource helps business professionals cut through all the noise and misunderstandings which surrounds this new technology, XBRL, and how XBRL is used for digital financial reporting.  This resource allows business professionals to focus on what is truly important and not be distracted by the underlying technology which there is no need for business professionals to ever deal with.

This resource also helps software developers and other information technology professionals understand what business professionals truly need from software applications in support of digital financial reporting.

This page summarizes all that Rene and I have learned related to digital financial reporting.


Digital Financial Reporting: Using an XBRL-based syntax (the book)

All the work Rene and I have done over the past 16 or so years working to help create XBRL is summarized in one resource, Digital Financial Reporting: Using an XBRL-based syntax, written by Rene van Egmond and myself. This DRAFT edition can be downloaded for free and used today to help you understand and contribute to creating this new digital financial reporting paradigm. It puts into one place, organizes, synthesises, and otherwise pulls together important information which helps accountants, internal auditors, external auditors, financial analysts, regulators, other business professionals, and software engineers and other information technology professionals to understand the moving pieces of XBRL and how to employ XBRL for digital financial reporting.

Digital Financial Reporting, one downloadable PDF: (OLDER VERSION, new version will be available when all the chapters have been updated) You can download one PDF which has the entire resource. (25 megs, so be patient).

eBook: See the Digital Financial Reporting Wikibook (work in progress, the best way to learn is to contribute)

Print version: If you prefer a printed version (OLDER VERSION), you can get as many printed copies as you might need from

Individual chapter PDFs: Each individual chapters of Digital Financial Reporting: Using an XBRL-based Model can be downloaded below: (This is the most current version of this information!!!)

The following is other very helpful information which can be used to understand digital financial reporting:

  • Financial Report Semantics and Dynamics Theory:  The Financial Report Semantics and Dynamics Theory breaks down a financial report into a discrete set of semantic pieces or objects.  This is necessary in order to be able to "digitize" a financial report effectively in a manner understandable by a business user.  XBRL is a technical syntax. The semantic objects are a layer between reality and the technical implementation of that reality.
  • Creating Financial Reports using XBRL Leveraging the Financial Report Semantics and Dynamics Theory:  (Technical) This page shows the connection between the Financial Report Semantics and Dynamics Theory and an implementation of that theory to express SEC XBRL financal reports using ideas from Modeling Business Information Using XBRL.
  • Financial Reporting Using XBRL (FRUX): Financial Reporting Using XBRL is an early book about XBRL that tends to be more oriented toward the XBRL technical syntax.
  • XBRL for Dummies: XBRL for Dummies is published by Wiley and helps business professionals understand the big piture of digital business reporting.  If you want to understand the XBRL technical syntax, Chapter 4: An XBRL Primer is a very good starting point.