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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New XBRL Taxonomy a 'Boon to Investors'

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is releasing a new taxonomy
for Extensible Business Reporting Language on December 4, 2007 in the
hopes of improving financial reporting and analysis. An XBRL taxonomy,
which is akin to an XML schema, describes a standard way to report
business information. The SEC has been encouraging public companies
to file their public financial disclosures using XBRL on a voluntary
basis. David Blaszkowsky, director for the office of interactive
disclosure at the SEC, said during an XBRL conference held in Vancouver,
British Columbia, that the new taxonomy represents "a tremendous boon
to investors" because it provides greater access to information buried
in financial reports. Tim Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun
Microsystems, and one of the original architects of XML, said XBRL will
allow financial services firms and individual investors to dive into
public company statements more efficiently than they can now: "XBRL
tries to make information machine-processable. The end result is that
the language will make it trivial to run a comparison across an entire
sector and get an answer in seconds." XBRL "is a powerful and flexible
version of XML which has been defined specifically to meet the
requirements of business and financial information. It enables unique
identifying tags to be applied to items of financial data, such as
'net profit'. However, these are more than simple identifiers. They
provide a range of information about the item, such as whether it is
a monetary item, percentage or fraction. XBRL allows labels in any
language to be applied to items, as well as accounting references or
other subsidiary information."

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