Ways in Which XBRL is Different from iXBRL

Even though XBRL and iXBRL have the same objectives (seamless reporting of financial data), few differences exist between the two reporting languages. After all, CIPC transitioned from XBRL to iXBRL for a reason, right? Let’s find out what this reason is.

The Story Behind Evolution of XBRL to iXBRL

XBRL is a standard, machine-readable language created primarily for financial reporting. Based on the GAAP and IFRS principles, this reporting language enables users’ free, automated exchange of financial data. Each element of XBRL has an HTML tag that marks the uniqueness of the element. 

Simply put, it’s like a barcode for all financial information. However, somewhere down the line, it was discovered that users of XBRL were having a hard time understanding the language in its coded format, which is when the evolution of XBRL was developed.

This evolution is being referred to as “Inline” XBRL or iXBRL.

Naturally, the next question that comes to mind is, what’s the difference between XBRL and iXBRL, right? Well, you need to read on to find out.


Difference Between XBRL and iXBRL: Where XBRL Ends and iXBRL Begins

Essentially, one is the predecessor, and the other one is its successor. However, the primary difference between the two is that the improved version of XBRL, i.e., iXBRL, is both human and machine-readable, whereas XBRL is only machine-readable. It combines traditional XBRL with an HTML format, creating an XHTML format that can produce XBRL information in a readable report, allowing easy consumption of financial data by users.

In addition to this common difference, there are other significant ones like:-

  • iXBRL is a better way of controlling the formatting of information while still being in the electronic data format. 
  • XBRL allows the viewing of financial information in only one format, which is only machine-readable. So you need another one that converts the coded language in a readable format. However, iXBRL removes the headaches of reviewing information in two different formats. All your information is underlined and presented in the way you meant it to be.


Beyond these differences, there are some technical differences as well.

  • iXBRL is actually XHTML, which means there are some different tags you can use in one versus the other.
  • Certain HTML tags and attributes are no longer valid in iXBRL such as <br> and <hr> must be self closing in iXBRL.
  • Another difference is what files you are including. XBRL can include the HTML and XBRL files separately. However, now the iXBRL files actually replace the HTML, so you only need to include those. 


Transitioning from XBRL to iXBRL

Considering the fact that the CIPC has mandated iXBRL in South Africa, every company needs to transition to this new reporting language and reap the benefits of using it. If you are already familiar with the native HTML, the transition is actually really smooth as there are no tagging changes. 

If you are striving for an ideal partner who can help you with this transition, DataTracks has your back. Having catered to the iXBRL needs of over 19,900 clients worldwide, DataTracks has gained prowess in providing XBRL and iXBRL services. 

To know more about what DataTracks has to offer, speak to an XBRL expert @ +27-10-446-9061 or email at enquiry@datatracks.co.za.

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