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XBRL, Excel, and Python

I don't really know python, but I hear a lot of really good things about it. I do know a lot about Excel. But, it seems that combining these things would be incredibly useful:

  • Arelle: An open source XBRL processor built using python.
  • IronSpread: A way to use python within Excel.
  • Python-Excel: Other stuff related to getting things into and out of Excel using python.

This I absolutely agree with: "learn to code".  You don't need to learn to be a programmer, just learn to code.  Huge difference.

I have fiddled around with programming my entire career.  I started with Lotus 1-2-3 macros, rBase which is a relational database, moved to Excel when it still used the old macro language, really jumped into Excel when it moved to VBA, jumped into programming even more when Microsoft Access which was released (started with macros, but then switched to VBA), and even fiddled with Visual Basic .Net.  I like VB.Net and wish Excel and Access would switch from VBA to .Net; not sure if that will ever happen.

Along the way I learned SQL, HTML, HTTP, XML, XSLT, regular expressions, ASP, CSS, RDF/OWL, XSL-FO, XQuery, XML Schema, and other odds and ends to varying degrees.  It is a hobby which fits nicely into the accounting work I do. And yeah...I learned a bit about XBRL also!

Programming is fun, but I would not want to do it for a living.

Posted on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 12:01PM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | Comments1 Comment

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Reader Comments (1)

Great post Charlie, and quite encouraging to me as a CPA who is trying to fiddle with code. I learned early on in my fiddling that I'll never be a programmer, but it is a fun hobby and shows that you can get a computer to do some simple tasks for you (which is especially easy when working with XBRL). Below is a link to one of my hobby projects (surprise, surprise- also written in Python) that returns the Current Ratio, Return On Assets, and Return On Equity when providing a valid SEC instance document.

http://xbrl-works.appspot.com/

It's obviously just a simple program that does nothing too profound, but I think it's another example that supports your blog and shows that a CPA without any programming background (like myself) can code enough to write programs that extract meaningful data from XBRL files without too much trouble.
June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Mennona

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