Ever wanted a really simple example of XBRL? Well, you are in luck. Here is a very basic example of what XBRL is, how it works, and how easy it is to create.
This example shows the very basics. It consists of:
- A taxonomy: HelloWorld.xsd
- An instance document: HelloWorld.xml
- An Excel spreadsheet which allows you to generate XBRL: HelloWorldExample-2008-12-19.zip
The best way to use this is to download the ZIP file which contains the Excel spreadsheet, the taxonomy and the instance document. You can look at the taxonomy and the instance document. Open the Excel spreadsheet. NOTE THAT IT CONTAINS MACROS!!! Go to the workbook "Hello World Example" and simply press the buttons on the right, in order preferably, and you can create your own XBRL. You can go to the "Create HelloWorld Taxonomy" spreadsheet to generate the taxonomy.
Some things to note about this "Hello World" example:
- While the example is pretty basic, you can get a really good sense for what is going on, how things work, how to generate your own simple instance documents, and how easy creating basic XBRL really is.
- You will realize that you don't NEED any fancy tools to get started. But BEWARE!!! There is no XBRL validation being done by the example. However, if you grab a validator and validate it, you will see that this is valid XBRL. It is not that I am recommending creating XBRL without a validator. This is not a production system, it is only a simple demo.
- If you look at the example you will note there are no linkbases. Ah, those mean and nasty linkbases! Well, you will also see that you don't have much metadata. No labels, no calculations being expressed, no formulas, no references, no nothing but concepts. Looks a lot like normal XML. Well, it is. The point is that all those mean and nasty linkbases is where all the helpful metadata is. You are going to want those to get all that great metadata they provide.
- If you are proficient with Excel, you can probably read the VBA which makes this go. The example does not even use an XML parser to generate the XBRL, it basically just writes a text file. The VBA which extractes data from the instance and populates it does use an XML parser.
- See how the mapping workbook is used to both generate the XBRL and also to populate the spreadsheet from the XBRL file. Two way process using the same mapping.
Sure, this is not perfect, it is not robust, and it certainly is not some big scalable application for using XBRL. But, it is useful in helping you see the basics, reverse engineering how to work with XBRL and for some general experimentation.