XBRL specification is continually evolving. So what’s new this time? It’s a specification named ‘Table Linkbase’. This specification comes handy in viewing or creating XBRL reports in a friendly fashion. XBRL has always been defined as machine readable language, but question which crops up often is how do humans use the XBRL data? Are we human supposed to read the XML tags and understand? Certainly, not.
End users of business data are used to a format in which they see data and analyze it. Using XBRL ‘as is’ to mimic the original template/form poses a challenge. Conventionally software application reads the presentation and definition linkbase of the taxonomy and renders XBRL document. This kind of a view is not appreciated for multiple reasons.
To start with, XBRL flavor cannot be hidden in a traditional form of rendering. For example, a table may have a heading ‘Classification of Revenue Hypercube”. Now, this terminology called ‘Hypercube’, completely sounds absurd for someone who does not know XBRL. One more striking example can be the amount pertaining to same reporting period that may appear in two columns bifurcated on the basis of period type say instance and duration in a conventional rendering situation. This is again a big ‘no’ for consumers or creators of XBRL documents.
Attempts have been made to replicate a view which is comfortable to XBRL users. However these custom developments are largely restricted to a specific taxonomy or architecture. Hence there was a need felt to come-up with a standard way of defining templates to present XBRL data.
The answer to this need is the ‘Table linkbase’. Table linkbase allows drawing a template with all XBRL aspects mentioned under the hood. When a template is created in table linkbase, the author specifies all XBRL details like what is the concept, dimension, domain member, unit, period and other XBRL aspects for all rows and columns in the that template. Labels can be customized for the table/row or column which need not be taken from the taxonomy labels.
There are two use cases specified for table linkbase, one is creation of instance document and another is rendering of instance document. When table linkbase is used for creating instance documents, the creator has to specify only the fact value appropriate for that cell; other XBRL information is fetched from the linkbase to create an instance document. Ultimately, an instance document is rendered using table linkbase users can relate to the data in a friendlier manner as they are familiar with the format and layout of report. In short, Table Linkbase takes XBRL one step closer to the end user.