8 ways in which iXBRL is different to XBRL

If you’ve been following our blog, you will have seen our breakdown of all the ins and outs of eXtensible Business Reporting Language or XBRL. If you haven’t visited our blog lately, you can read everything about this open technology standard for financial reporting here.

With this knowledge in hand, it’s time to take things one step further. Today, we’re discussing inline XBRL or iXBRL. The main enhancement of iXBRL is the electronic rendering of the financial information encoded in an XBRL document. To put it more simply, if the aim of XBRL was to allow machines to automatically read data, iXBRL renders this data, which means that these documents can be viewed on standard browsers.

So XBRL is all about function, while iXBRL takes that function and puts it in a format that is more “accessible” and visually appealing for the user. It also means that you can incorporate your XBRL tags into your HTML-formatted financial statements instead of filing a separate XBRL instance document.

Want to learn more about iXBRL? Here are the key differences between inline and regular XBRL:​

1. Human and machine readability

While XBRL is only machine-readable, machines and people can read iXBRL documents.

2. File type extensions

As you know, normal XBRL documents typically have an .XML extension. With iXBRL, the file type is usually an .HTML or .XHTML file extension. In this case, the XBRL metadata is embedded in the file, which makes it possible to easily render the information.

3. Encoding standard

Similar to the above, an XBRL document will follow the XML encoding standard while iXBRL is available in XML and XHTML.

4. Output type

XBRL output appears in tables, while iXBRL appears in a format called Wysiwig – what you see is what you get.

5. Rendering options

This is perhaps one of the main differences between the two. To view the information from an XBRL document, you will need special applications (XBRL viewers) to render the data. iXBRL offers another layer, one that humans can decipher, which is rendered directly on browsers and printers. An XBRL viewer will only need to view the XBRL layer.

6. Formatting options

Another key difference lies with the flexibility of formatting. This is limited with XBRL. The benefit of iXBRL is that there are several options to format content.

7. Complexity

XBRL truly shines here, it is much less complex than iXBRL.

8. Filing processes

Filing an XBRL document is a multi-step process. The XBRL instance, the one that is readable by machines, must be filed separately to the HTML instance, which is readable by humans. The iXBRL standard allows for the the filing of machine- and human readable-formats via a single instance document.

At Caseware, we will not only deal with the task of tagging the final documents, we’ll also provide you with total internal control and a financial reporting solution with built-in assurance and document management for engagements of any size and complexity.

This manages the entire task, from the importing of trial balance data through the preparation of financial statements and audit files, all the way to producing the XBRL document. Want to find out more? Get in touch here.

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