XBRL specification is continually evolving. So what’s new this time? It’s a specification named ‘Table Linkbase’. This specification comes in handy in viewing or creating XBRL reports in a friendly fashion. XBRL has always been defined as machine-readable language, but the question which crops up often is how humans use the XBRL data. Are we humans supposed to read the XML tags and understand them? 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 the XBRL document. This kind of 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 the 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 about the same reporting period that may appear in two columns bifurcated based on 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 that 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 linkage. 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 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 the creation of instance documents and another is the rendering of the instance documents. 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 the report. In short, Table Linkbase takes XBRL one step closer to the end user.