What is Inline XBRL?
Inline XBRL is a structured data language that allows filers to prepare a single document that is both human-readable and machine-readable, so that filers need only prepare one Inline XBRL document rather than generate an HTML document of their financial statement information or risk/return summary information and then tag a copy of the data to create a separate XBRL exhibit.
For data users, Inline XBRL provides an easier way to view, access, and explore the contextual information of the underlying data. For example, users can click on individual tagged data points in the filing to find more information about the data, such as citations and hyperlinks to the relevant accounting guidance, narrative definitions for the values, and reporting period information associated with each value.
The Benefits of iXBRL
iXBRL has two principal benefits
Elimination of a duplicative filing requirement
We applaud the use of iXBRL because it eliminates a duplicative filing requirement. Today, filers are required to submit financial information to the SEC in two separate formats: HTML and XBRL. Maintaining these two formats in some cases can be a time-consuming process and results in errors if the information in the two formats is not kept in perfect alignment. Under the amendment, the formats are combined into a single filing.
Simplified viewing of information
lnline XBRL eliminates the need to render the XBRL documents in human-readable format. With iXBRL, the HTML version that includes XBRL-tagged information can be viewed in any web browser through the SEC's lnline XBRL Viewer. Because the XBRL tags are embedded into the HTML version, the XBRL information about a financial concept can be viewed in the context of the HTML statement. Thus, reviewing the tags is easier.
The iXBRL rule and history of structured data
iXBRL replaces the submission of separate XBRL filings in conjunction with HTML-formatted financial statements. This rule also requires mutual fund risk/return summaries to be filed in the inline format. In using iXBRL, filers will embed XBRL tags directly into an HTML document and eliminate the current two-step process. This consolidated process keeps the human-readable HTML format of the financial statements and other filings the same when viewed in a web browser while adding the XBRL tagging to those statements.
Similar to the original XBRL mandate, the iXBRL rule calls for phasing in the requirements for operating companies over a three-year period and for mutual fund risk/return summaries over a two-year period.
iXBRL is significant because it highlights the SEC's commitment to structured data. This commitment began in 2009 with the XBRL mandate. XBRL is an XML-based standard for tagging financial data that is searchable, thus enhancing the transparency of and accessibility to the data.