I discussed the notion of an information model and discussed [Table]s in other blog posts. I showed inconsistencies in the information model of SEC XBRL filings in my analysis of those filings and summarized suggestions as to how to create investor friendly SEC XBRL filings (see #6 which relates to following the US GAAP Taxonomy information model).
I created a little cheat sheet which helps people understand that information model. I am trying to explain visually the relationships between, for example, a [Table], [Axis] and [Line Items]. This may not be apparent from looking at the US GAAP Taxonomy. But once you see them, you will see why this is a guide to how to SEC filers should extend the US GAAP Taxonomy. Meaning, why would the US GAAP Taxonomy go through the trouble to structure the taxonomy so consistently and why would filers NOT follow the structure of the US GAAP Taxonomy? Clearly you can imagine that everyone creating their company extension taxonomies in various unique different ways can be both confusing to users and hard for any rendering engine to deal with.
I hope this graphical model is helpful in identifying these information modeling metapatterns and following them.
Further, imagine software applications which leveraged these information modeling patterns and let users edit at the information model level (i.e. you deal with the patterns, not the lower level XBRL syntax). This will make creating SEC XBRL filings much, much easier.