From EDGAR Online:
The SEC has mandated the use of interactive data (XBRL) for primary financial statement reporting by publicly traded companies and risk/return summary disclosures by mutual funds.
Effective January 1, 2011, the SEC requires mutual funds to file their risk/return summaries in XBRL or interactive data format. Funds will be required to provide their XBRL risk/return summaries as an exhibit to any registration statement or post-effective amendment on Form N-1A that includes or amends risk/return summary information, as well as in an exhibit to any form of prospectus that contains risk/return information that varies from that contained in their most recent registration statement or post-effective amendment.
Click here to read the final mutual fund ruling published by the SEC. (PDF: 114 pages)
From XBRL.org, the Web site for XBRL International:
"XBRL is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data which is revolutionising business reporting around the world. It provides major benefits in the preparation, analysis and communication of business information. It offers cost savings, greater efficiency and improved accuracy and reliability to all those involved in supplying or using financial data.
XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is one of a family of "XML" languages which is becoming a standard means of communicating information between businesses and on the internet.
XBRL is being developed by an international non-profit consortium of approximately 450 major companies, organisations and government agencies. It is an open standard, free of licence fees. It is already being put to practical use in a number of countries and implementations of XBRL are growing rapidly around the world.
This site provides information about the nature, uses and benefits of XBRL. It explains how individuals and companies can join the effort to move forward and make use of the language.
A Simple Explanation
The idea behind XBRL, eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is simple. Instead of treating financial information as a block of text - as in a standard internet page or a printed document - it provides an identifying tag for each individual item of data. This is computer readable. For example, company net profit has its own unique tag.
The introduction of XBRL tags enables automated processing of business information by computer software, cutting out laborious and costly processes of manual re-entry and comparison. Computers can treat XBRL data "intelligently": they can recognise the information in a XBRL document, select it, analyse it, store it, exchange it with other computers and present it automatically in a variety of ways for users. XBRL greatly increases the speed of handling of financial data, reduces the chance of error and permits automatic checking of information.
Companies can use XBRL to save costs and streamline their processes for collecting and reporting financial information. Consumers of financial data, including investors, analysts, financial institutions and regulators, can receive, find, compare and analyse data much more rapidly and efficiently if it is in XBRL format.
XBRL can handle data in different languages and accounting standards. It can flexibly be adapted to meet different requirements and uses. Data can be transformed into XBRL by suitable mapping tools or it can be generated in XBRL by appropriate software...."
Some Useful Definitions
XBRL International: a not-for-profit consortium of approximately 650 companies and agencies worldwide working together to build the XBRL language and promote and support its adoption. It began in 1998 and has produced many specifications and taxonomies to support a standard, XML-based language for digitizing business reports. It has compiled best practices and resources.
XBRL.US: XBRL US, Inc., the US jurisdiction of the international organization, was also a committee of the AICPA until September, 2006.
EDGAROnline: EDGAR Online (NASDAQ: EDGR) is the leading global provider of XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) solutions that improve the flow of business information.