Every weekend I try and do some experimentation with XBRL. Last weekend I created a prototype of what I call XBRL Techniques and Trends. This weekend I built upon that base and created XBRL Techniques and Trends 2.
This second prototype is closer to what a real tool such as this might work. Again, granted, it is limited because of my lack of programming skills, but I think it shows where this can go. This version has actual information from the filings whereas the first version showed information from the XBRL taxonomy. Both are useful, the actual information is more useful it seems to me.
Be aware that my prototype works against a set of only 1474 SEC XBRL filings. These filings are all 10-Ks and 10-Qs. But, some are still in the block tag phase, others detail tag their filings. Notice that you can navigate back to the SEC Interactive Information Viewer rendering from the filing from which the fragment comes.
While this only shows single concepts, mostly policies but a few disclosures; this could handle multiple facts reported also, but that would require the ability to render the information.
Imagine taking this to the next level by sending a search engine against the concepts. Because you know the context of what you are searching against, the information returned will be both more accurate and more useful.
Imagine having this type of information available within a software application which you are using to create a financial report. And I am not talking about Microsoft Word, although having the information available using that soon to be legacy process might be helpful; imagine if the software application "understood" US GAAP. How can software understand US GAAP? Well, that possibility is provided by the structured nature of XBRL. Now, you do get some of this information from the US GAAP Taxonomy today, you will get far, far more information as more meta data is added to the taxonomy. Things like "if this is disclosed, then this must be disclosed" are easy for a computer to check. Today we call that a disclosure checklist. Can a computer do everything? Certainly not. Another thing a computer can do is make sure all the computations foot, cross cast and otherwise tick and tie. That is easy for a computer, harder for a human who can loose focus or get tired.
People are beginning to realize that XBRL is far more than a punitive regulator mandate. This will get easier and easier as more and more software, such as (but much better than) things like my little XBRL Techniques and Trends prototypes show where all this XBRL stuff is leading.
What ideas do you have for useful software which can leverage the nature of XBRL? Leave me a comment, I may have some time during a weekend to build another prototype.