XBRL

Get Sharp!

Altova Software Version 2019 introduces over 20 new features to help you sharpen your  development game – starting with support for high-res and high-DPI monitors in both XMLSpy and UModel. There are also tools for working with new standards and database versions across the product line, the ability to map and convert data in Google Protocol Buffers format, and much more. Let’s take a look at the highlights.

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Support for High-PPI Monitors

As developers transition to 4K, UHD, and Retina displays, we’re working on revamping our UIs to be vivid and sharp on high-PPI screens of all sizes. Because XMLSpy and UModel are known for their graphical views, we’re rolling out support here first.

Both XMLSpy and UModel now take full advantage of the benefits of high-res screens and monitors to render graphics with more precision and detail, so the UIs of these products are now beautifully sharp on high-res monitors. The change will be most apparent in the graphical XML Schema, JSON Schema, XBRL, and WSDL editors in XMLSpy and in UML diagrams in UModel.

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Read more about what’s new in XMLSpy and what’s new in UModel.

Mapping of Data in Protocol Buffers

The list of formats supported by MapForce for drag-and-drop data mapping is growing again, this time with the addition of Google Protocol Buffers, as requested by numerous customers.

Protocol buffers is a language- and platform-neutral mechanism for serializing structured data. The method generally involves an interface description language that describes the structure of some data and a program that generates source code from that description for generating or parsing a stream of bytes that represents the structured data – but MapForce lets you work with Protocol Buffers visually, without needing to write code.

MapForce can now map data to or from binary instances encoded in Protocol Buffers format to any other format, including XML, relational databases, JSON, CSV, and more, visually, using drag and drop connections.

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This makes converting Protocol Buffers to and from other formats easier than ever.

Read about all the new features in MapForce, including advanced filters for defining node functionsthat apply to multiple nodes at once.

Support for additional database versions

All database-enabled Altova MissionKit products and server software products support numerous versions of the most popular relational databases. In this latest release, that support is updated to include the most recent versions of several of those, specifically:

  • Firebird 3

  • Informix 12.10

  • MariaDb 10.3

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2017

  • MySQL 8

  • PostgreSQL 10

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Support for connecting to SQL Server running on Linux has also been added.

Extended XBRL support

We add additional XBRL support with every release, and this time XMLSpy and RaptorXML Server have received three important updates:

Support for XBRL Generic Preferred Label 1.0  

XBRL Generic Preferred Label is an extension of the XBRL specification that provides a syntax to make labels more flexible. XMLSpy includes a new entry helper for specifying preferred labels, and RaptorXML can validate documents that include XBRL Generic Preferred Label definitions.

Removal of duplicate XBRL facts 

When organizations create XBRL instance documents for filing, it’s important to detect and reconcile any duplicate facts.

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Starting with Version 2019, XMLSpy can check XBRL instances for various types of duplicate facts and report them for analysis. Both XMLSpy and RaptorXML can optionally ignore duplicates during processing.

New entry helpers for XBRL Typed Domain 

A typed domain is the element declaration that is referenced by a typed dimension.

The Details entry helper in the XMLSpy XBRL Taxonomy Editor includes a new Typed Domain tab that displays additional information about any typed domain referenced by a typed dimension definition.

 

High-availability options for FlowForce Server

For use in mission-critical scenarios, FlowForce Server, Altova’s customizable workflow engine, offers the option to distribute jobs among multiple servers.

Administrators can configure a primary server and multiple secondary servers, offering excellent scalability with a group of computers sharing heavy data processing jobs. At the same time, this allows for high-availability: if one of the secondary computers stops functioning, the system will continue to process FlowForce jobs.

Of course, for load sharing the corresponding Altova server software (e.g., MapForce Server, RaptorXML Server,  etc.) must be installed on the primary and all secondary servers in the system.

 

For more information about all the features added to each Altova product in this latest release, please see the Altova website.

New XBRL Formula Editor in XMLSpy

I'm very excited about all the new features in XMLSpy 2015, and in particular about the new XBRL Formula Editor, which now lets you build formulas more intuitively using a XBRL Table Linkbase layout preview. The XBRL Table Linkbase specification provides a mechanism for taxonomy authors to define a tabular layout of facts. The resulting tables can be used for both presentation and data entry. In XMLSpy 2015 we use these tables as a way to specify variables in XBRL Formula definitions.

However, XBRL Table Linkbase is a fairly young specification, so not many published XBRL taxonomies include Table Linkbase definitions yet. Please see my previous blog post, where I have demonstrated how to add a Table Linkbase to an existing XBRL extension taxonomy.

Once we have a taxonomy with a Table Linkbase attached to it, we can then proceed to create some assertions or calculations using XBRL Formula Editor. In this video, I will demonstrate how to do this using a recent SEC filing as an example instance:



The new XBRL Formula Editor is one of the many new features introduced in the new Altova version 2015 product line last week, which includes new versions of XMLSpy, MapForce, all the other MissionKit tools, and all Altova server products.

XBRL Table Linkbase Editor and Layout Preview

This week we launched our new Altova version 2015 product line, including new versions of XMLSpy, MapForce, all the other MissionKit tools, and all Altova server products.

One of the cool new features in XMLSpy 2015 is the real-time XBRL Table Linkbase layout preview. The XBRL Table Linkbase specification provides a mechanism for taxonomy authors to define a tabular layout of facts. The resulting tables can be used for both presentation and data entry.

However, XBRL Table Linkbase is a fairly young specification, so not many published XBRL taxonomies include Table Linkbase definitions yet. This is where XMLSpy can greatly help: in this video I will give you a quick demonstration of how to add a Table Linkbase to an existing XBRL extension taxonomy, using an XBLR filing that was submitted to the SEC as an example:



Learn how the graphical XBRL Table Linkbase editor in XMLSpy makes it easy to define XBRL tables for the presentation of multi-dimensional XBRL data. You can determine whether your table produces the desired results in the real-time XBRL Table layout preview, which is new starting in XMLSpy 2015.

How to download and process SEC XBRL Data Directly from EDGAR

Earlier this year I presented a webinar for XBRL.US where I demonstrated how you can use the vast number of XBRL filings that have been submitted by public companies to the SEC and are available for free to download from the SEC's EDGAR system:



Since then I've occasionally received requests for the slides used in that webinar, and the slides are available on SlideShare now.

In addition, several people wanted to see and reuse the complete Python scripts that I demonstrated in the webinar, so I have now uploaded those and published them in a new GitHub repository:

https://github.com/altova/sec-xbrl

These scripts are available under an Apache 2 license and require Python 3 as well as RaptorXML+XBRL Server installed on your machine. For more details, please see the README file published on GitHub.

Altova MissionKit 2013

Just in case you missed these announcements last month, here is a quick recap of some of our blog posts about the new major features in the Altova MissionKit 2013:

But there is so much more included in version 2013 of the various developer tools across the entire MissionKit tools suite in terms of new features that we added in direct response to customer feedback:

  • Seamless integration options in Java applications for XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, Authentic
  • Support for embedded XML Schemas in WSDL files
  • Enhanced WSDL documentation options
  • Flexible integration of external programs into XMLSpy
  • Support for CamelCase words in spell checker
  • Option to strip unnecessary whitespace
  • Support for Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider for version control systems
  • Table row and column conditions
  • XPath Evaluator extension of XPath Builder
  • Integration with Eclipse 4.2 (adds to support for earlier versions)
  • Support for US GAAP 2012 XBRL taxonomy (adds to support for earlier versions)
  • Support for UML 2.4
  • Support for SysML 1.2
  • Support for displaying .NET properties as UML associations
  • Spell checker for UML model components
  • Print results of directory comparisons in DiffDog
  • Significant performance improvements in DiffDog
  • Authentic browser plug-in for Google Chrome
  • Authentic push installer for browser plug-ins

More information on all of these new features can be found on our "What's New" page

EOR (End of Recession) and OOW (Oracle Open World)

It is now official. The recession ended over a year ago. That doesn’t necessarily make us all feel better, but seeing the huge number of attendees at Oracle Open World this week and their great interest for all products is certainly a positive sign that the economy is indeed getting better – if only slowly.

Altova Booth at OOW

There are also some rather lavish displays by some of the industry’s biggest companies – it almost feels like the good old pre-recession days of 2007 again.

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If you happen to be in San Francisco this week, please stop by at the Altova booth in the Moscone West hall and say hello. We are demo’ing the latest features of the new MissionKit 2011 as well as all the other awesome database-related functions in our product line, such as:

Looking forward to seeing you at Oracle Open World

XBRL Chart Wizard

Now that XBRL has been mandated by the SEC for a while, we have a large collection of financial data publicly available and it is of great interest to both individual savvy investors and institutions to analyze that data. StyleVision has already been great for taking existing XBRL data and turning it into human-readable reports and more specifically extracting some data sets that are not immediately visible in the high-gloss annual reports that companies normally provide.

But the new v2011 of StyleVision takes XBRL analysis to a whole new level! Adding to its XBRL rendering capabilities, StyleVision now allows users to generate charts in their XBRL reports using a comprehensive wizard. This is an enormous benefit to those working with XBRL and can reveal trends that otherwise would remain hidden.

Charts are created by simply dragging a financial statement or other parent node to the design pane and choosing Create XBRL Chart to start the XBRL Chart Wizard.

xbrl chart wizard

Users can customize the data rendered in their charts by selecting the desired category or series values (Concept and Period are default) in the properties dialogs. The screenshot below shows the Concept Properties dialog, where users can select the XBRL concepts they wish to render in their charts.

xbrl charts

The Period Properties dialog gives options on how to handle XBRL periods, which convey the relevant instant or intervals of time for XBRL reporting.

xbrl charts

As with the charting feature mentioned above, chart styles and properties can be controlled using the All settings button in the Chart Wizards and/or by using the StyleVision entry helper windows, where users can select chart type, background color, fonts, alignment, etc.

The example below shows XBRL data presented in tabular form and the same data presented as a chart in HTML. The same data can also be instantly rendered in RTF, PDF, or Word 2007+ simply by clicking on the relevant output preview button.

xbrl charts

The XBRL Chart Wizard is just one of the many new features in the Altova MissionKit 2011 that we released last week. Make sure that you download your 30-day free trial to see for yourself how much more powerful the MissionKit 2011 is.

Altova StyleVision In-Depth Review

Dave Gash published an in-depth review of Altova StyleVision 2010 on the WritersUA website this past week and says in his introduction:

Altova calls StyleVision a "stylesheet designer," but that technically accurate designation doesn't really do the software justice. They could have called it a "schema-based WYSIWYG drag-and-drop XML / XBRL / database visual page editor and XSLT / XSL-FO / HTML / RTF / PDF / Word / e-forms generator," but I'm guessing that wouldn't have made it past the suits in Marketing.

I like that new product description. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but certainly brings it to the point. Really, we couldn’t have said it any better…

Dave follows this introduction with a detailed review of the design method, user-interface, formatting, and output options and covers all the exciting new capabilities of version 2010, such as the new blueprint capability.

And after going over all the relevant features Dave comes to the following conclusion:

StyleVision is one of the most interesting software applications I've seen in years. Without question, it offers a new and unique approach to XSLT transform authoring, a skill formerly reserved for beanie-wearing, pocket-protector using, syntax-obsessing code jockeys such as your humble reviewer. It allows more of the tech pubs workforce than ever to transform raw data into aesthetic, useful pages.

While some coders might lament the loss of a previously proprietary skill set to non-programmers, the fact is that spreading knowledge around is a good thing. Make no mistake: as more people use a technology, the better that technology becomes, and StyleVision's application of the WYSIWYG concept to XSLT is a shining example.

We are delighted to hear that! Please check out Dave’s review and then download a free 30-day eval version to see for yourself.

XBRL Enhancements in XMLSpy 2010

I have written about XBRL on this blog a lot, and you probably already know that we’ve added support for XBRL across several of our products already in version 2009, when we introduced the XBRL Taxonomy Editor and XBRL validation in XMLSpy, added XBRL data mapping and instance document creation to MapForce, and XBRL rendering, report generation, and presentation to StyleVision.

So what’s new in version 2010? We have enhanced the XBRL support in our award-winning XML Editor based on direct customer feedback and added four frequently requested XBRL features to XMLSpy:

XBRL Taxonomy Wizard

The new XBRL Taxonomy Wizard makes extending an industry-standard XBRL taxonomy, or even creating a new taxonomy a breeze.

You simply use the File/New dialog to begin a new XBRL Taxonomy Schema, and XMLSpy prompts you to select the existing base taxonomy (e.g., US-GAAP, IFRS, etc.) you wish to extend (if any).

Once you enter the company ticker or name, XMLSpy automatically creates and saves all the required taxonomy files, including all the various linkbase documents.

XBRL Taxonomy Wizard

In Step 2 of the wizard you get to pick one or more entry points of the taxonomy you are extending.

XBRL Taxonomy Wizard

Once you click finish, XMLSpy 2010 displays the newly created taxonomy files in XBRL view, where you can continue editing and refining the taxonomy in a graphical manner.

The new XBRL Taxonomy Wizard is an invaluable time-saver when you need to create a new taxonomy for your organization.

XBRL documentation generation

To further facilitate XBRL taxonomy development in its graphical XBRL Taxonomy Editor, XMLSpy 2010 now supports the generation of comprehensive XBRL documentation.

Multiple options for what information to include in documentation (below) are available, and documentation may be generated in HTML, Microsoft® Word, or RTF.

XBRL documentation

A snippet from generated documentation is shown below. Related components are hyperlinked in the onscreen output, allowing users to easily navigate from component to component.

XBRL documentation

Generation of XBRL documentation is a must-have feature for anyone creating, editing, or extending an XBRL taxonomy.

Printing graphical XBRL view

This new feature allows you to print the graphical representation of your XBRL taxonomy as it is displayed in the graphical XBRL View. Below is an example of the print-preview of an XBRL taxonomy:

Print XBRL

Find in XBRL, XBRL sorting

When working in XBRL View, the new Find in XBRL tab of the XMLSpy 2010 output window (which you can also activate using Ctrl-F) allows you to search an entire XBRL taxonomy or document, with advanced options for narrowing your results. Results are listed in the output window, where multiple tabs let you store numerous queries. Clicking any item in the results window navigates to that specific location in the document.

Find in XBRL

This functionality makes finding information in XBRL files, which tend to be rather large and complex, much easier.

The XBRL sorting in XMLSpy 2010 also makes it easier to view and navigate your file in XBRL view, allowing you to sort elements by name, substitution group, or type.

Sort XBRL

All these enhancements make XMLSpy the ideal XBRL Taxonomy Editor for your next XBRL project. As always, you can download a free 30-day evaluation version from our website to see for yourself…

Altova at Oracle OpenWorld 2009

Today was the first big day at Oracle OpenWorld 2009 in San Francisco and Altova is exhibiting at booth# 3750 in the Moscone West hall this year.

We had great traffic at our booth already on the first day and lots of people were interested in how MapForce can help them to move data into and out of the database and how to transform different data formats quickly and efficiently. Especially the new XBRL and HL7 data formats supported by MapForce 2009 appeared to be exactly what people wanted.
There was also a lot of interest in the database differencing features of DiffDog and DatabaseSpy - it appears that a lot of people are in the process of migrating data between systems, and that is exactly where these tools can add tremendous value.
There is a also a lot of talk about MySQL at the show this year - due to Oracle's acquisition of Sun - and I'm happy to report that all our tools do, of course, work great with both Oracle and MySQL as well as all other major databases.
If you are at the show this year, make sure you visit our booth and say hello. I am usually at the booth every morning...

XBRL Training

The SEC mandate for XBRL filings is just a few days away, and many people are still struggling with learning XBRL, how to create an extension taxonomy, or how to prepare a filing.

I am pleased to announce that we’ve just published a new FREE course in our Altova Online Training series that teaches technical users all the necessary information. Introducing the Altova XBRL Training:

After an introduction to XBRL and the XBRL filing process, you will learn to create an extension taxonomy in the XMLSpy XML editor. Then you'll learn how to get your company's back-end data into compliant XBRL filing documents using MapForce's graphical data mapping interface, and explore how to automate this process by generating code in Java, C#, or C++. The final module completes the process and focuses on StyleVision and XBRL report generation. You'll see how easy it is to create a straightforward XBRL report with drag-and-drop functionality to render XBRL in human-readable formats: HTML, PDF, and MS Word.

More information on the new XBRL training is on the Altova Blog and in the Online Training section on the Altova website.

XBRL and HL7 thoughts

Kurt Cagle has a great new article on his blog on the O'Reilly Community site titled "XBRL Becomes Mandatory - This Should be Interesting", where he writes (emphasis added by me):

"From the IT perspective, the formal adoption of XBRL as a mandatory requirement is likely to have a number of implications, not least of which being a suddenly high demand for XML skilled people in general, and XBRL people in particular, as well as a boon for XBRL service providers and tools vendors. As with the OOXML/ODF controversy of 2007, it is very likely that 2009 will be a banner year for XML technologies in general, as two of the key issues that are highly visible this year - financial transparency within corporations and the streamlining of health care, both involve rich XML standards - XBRL for financial reporting, HL7 v3 for electronic health records."

I couldn't agree more, which is why we released support for both XBRL and HL7 in our recent v2009 product line. Make sure you read Kurt's entire article, as he has some great thoughts and insight on the current economic situation as well.

Altova launches MissionKit v2009 including XBRL, HL7, and more

What an exciting day today. This is easily our biggest product launch in several years. Altova announces the new MissionKit v2009 on the blog and in a press release that crossed the wire at 9:10 am today.

I wrote about the final SEC rule on XBRL yesterday, and today you can download a fully functional 30-day trial of MissionKit 2009 which adds XBRL support across XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision. Use the new XBRL taxonomy editor in XMLSpy to create or modify a taxonomy for your company's XBRL filings. Use the new XBRL mapping feature in MapForce to create XBRL instance documents directly from your databases - or, if you are an investment firm, to analyze XBRL filings from multiple sources. Render financial report documents in PDF, Word, Open XML, or HTML from XBRL data with StyleVision.

If you are a CTO, software architect, developer, database professional, or IT engineer and are new to XBRL, we have a great new whitepaper that provides an overview of XBRL for technical users.

But today's announcement is not just about XBRL. In our effort to support various industries we are expanding into the health-care field and are introducing support for HL7 v2 EDI messages and v3 XML-based formats in MapForce.

In addition, we've added tons of new features to all our applications that are based on customer requests, including the following highlights: database comparison and merging in DiffDog and DatabaseSpy; XPath auto-completion, expanded source/revision control system support, and better visualization and editing of XML Schema identity constraints in XMLSpy; auto-generation of sequence diagrams, full source/revision control system support, and an extensive enterprise-grade automation API in UModel; grouping support and documentation generation in MapForce; completely new design manipulation for tables as well as direct template filtering with XPath expressions in StyleVision; and extended native support for SQL Server 2008, Oracle 11g, and PostgreSQL 8 across the entire product line.

In addition to all these new features, we are announcing an immediate price reduction in our US$ pricing as our own special "stimulus package" for the US economy. Our US$ prices are now reduced 13% and more - across the entire product line!

I'll write more about the individual features added to all the products in the MissionKit in subsequent posts... but for those who can't wait, here is the full-list on our What's New page...

Final SEC Rule on XBRL posted

This past Friday, January 30, the SEC posted its final rule on XBRL, making XBRL reporting mandatory for US companies over a 3-year phase-in period based on company size. The official title of the rule is "Interactive Data to Improve Financial Reporting", as can be seen in the SEC News Digest.

According to the SEC this new rule is aimed at "improv[ing] the usefulness of financial information to investors by requiring domestic and foreign companies to provide to the Commission a new exhibit with their financial statements, including the footnotes and schedules to the financial statements, in interactive data format. Interactive data will supplement, but not replace or change, disclosure using the traditional electronic filing formats in ASCII or HTML. Interactive data will be required with a filer's annual and quarterly reports, transition reports, and Securities Act registration statements, and on its corporate web site, if it maintains one. The requirements will be phased in, beginning later this year with approximately 500 of the largest companies."

Whenever the SEC says "Interactive Data" it really means to say XBRL. The phasing-in begins this year with public companies that fall into the large accelerated filer category and have a worldwide public common equity float above $5 billion - those companies will need to provide their financial statements in XBRL starting June 15, 2009. The second phase is for all accelerated filers irrespective of their float, and those need to file XBRL financial statement one year later, starting June 15, 2010. All other public companies then follow in the summer of 2011.

This is an exciting new development, as it will provide much greater transparency for financial data and give investors and analysts better tools to analyze and aggregate financial data, since XBRL can be processed, transformed, and reused easily - just like any other XML dialect.

It will also be exciting to see new tools that will allow software developers to create XBRL content easily, since XBRL has such broad applicability beyond just the realm of regulatory filings. Being able to interchange financial reporting data within larger organizations in a standardized format has huge potential benefits.

For other blog reactions, see this article on the Financial Reporting Blog or this article on the Corporate Counsel Blog.