Improve the performance of your iXBRL report

Which approach will best guarantees a good performance?
Written by Marcel Rosenbrand

iXBRL becomes more important in the world of corporate reporting. This development underlines the importance of a good performance of iXBRL reporting. However, research by XBRl International shows that the performance is often still bad.

But first...what is iXBRL?

iXBRL (an abbreviation of InlineXBRL) is a digital format for corporate reporting. It makes annual reports more accessible and facilitates the analysis and comparability of annual reports. Technically, iXBRL is a combination of:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the language with used to build webpages and
  • XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language), a type of digital barcode used to "tag" financial data using a taxonomy.

The appearance created like this is readable by both people and machines (software). iXBRL reports can be viewed in a browser or in a special (browser based) iXBRL viewer.

International developments

In the United States, iXBRL became mandatory in 2018 for U.S. GAAP filers and in 2021 for IFRS filers. In Europe the iXBRL-based European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) became mandatory for listed companies in 2021. It is expected that from 2023 this ESEF obligation will go into effect for all 50,000 companies in Europe that must comply with the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) announced at COP26 by the IFRS Foundation, makes it plausible that digital reporting in the form of iXBRL will become the standard worldwide.

The observations of XBRL International

XBRL International is the organization which manages the XBRL standard. Recently, XBRL International's Base Specification Working Group examined the performance of the first ESEF reports. These are - unlike U.S. iXBRL documents - often voluminous and richly formatted reports.
In analyzing ESEF reports, the Working Group concluded that the performance of many iXBRL reports leaves much to be desired: They open and respond slowly, making them quite user-unfriendly. The main reasons are:

  • Differences between browsers
  • Filesize of reports
  • Inefficient HTML code

In particular, iXBRL documents based on a pdf conversion appear to suffer from these performance issues. The Working Group's recommendation to report compilers, therefore, is:

’Consider a report creation process that targets iXBRL/HTML natively, rather than converting a PDF output.’*

In other words: create an online report to begin with.

More advantages of a digital first approach

A 'digital first' approach in realizing an iXBRL report offers more benefits than better performance:

You keep design and hyperlinks

Design elements and hyperlinks are often lost when converting pdf to HTML. With a digital first approach, these are kept intact.

You engage your stakeholders more effectively

If you work with a software solution that provides a multichannel, digital first approach, you can publish your annual report in more formats than just iXBRL: you can publish to iXBRL, pdf and to a responsive website at the same time. This means that as a company you not only meet your obligations, but you also reach a larger audience for your annual report.

Read more about ESEF reporting with F19 Software

*Source: Working Group Note 27 October 2021

Would you like to learn more about iXBRL and the possibilities?

We would gladly show you more in an online demo.

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