The SEC and Structured Data (Part 2)

We are discussing the recent speech by Mark Flannery, the new director of DERA.  See The Commission’s Production and Use of Structured Data, Data Transparency Coalition’s Fall Policy Conference, Washington, DC, Sept. 30, 2014 

Of interest was the discussion of "Inline XBRl."  Inline allows for the incorporation of XBRL tags into the HTML formatted document.  As a result, companies do not need to submit an HTML version and a separate file that contains the financial statements using XBRL.  Mark Flannery had this to say about Inline: 

  • DERA staff is working with outside contractors on “Inline-XBRL.” Consistent with its name, this new technology would allow companies to integrate (or embed) the XBRL tagging of the financial statements directly into their standard HTML formatted 10-K and 10Q filings.  This effectively eliminates the need to reconcile separate HTML and XBRL versions of the financial statement content, thus reducing the possibility of rekeying or similar errors.  Work is also proceeding on a prototype viewer that would allow users to display and search the integrated XBRL tagging while viewing the familiar HTML view of the financial statements.  In short, then, SEC staff are committed to improving the availability of financial information through the presentation and analysis of structured data.  

This is another important and serious step forward.  Inline will eliminate some of the data quality issues that have arisen with respect to financial statements submitted in an XBRL format.  In particular, Inline will eliminate the problem of discrepencies between the html and XBRL versions of the finanical statements.  It will not solve the problem of excessive use of custom tags and other issues associated with quality but it represents an important step forward in increasing the usability of tagged data. 

J Robert Brown Jr.