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Software Review: MissionKit 2009: XBRL Support From Altova

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Last year I covered each of the items in the Altova MissionKit 2008. The new version, MissionKit 2009 has been released and rather than going through each product, I am going to focus on some new technologies that have been introduced into their product line. The products that come with the MissionKit are XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, UModel, DatabaseSpy, DiffDog, SchemaAgent, SemanticWorks, and Authentic. The feature I will look at in this article is XBRL Support.

Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is an XML-based vocabulary for electronic transmission of business and financial data. It was developed to facilitate business intelligence (BI) automation by enabling machine-to-machine communication and data processing for financial information. The goal is towards cost reduction through the elimination of time consuming and error-prone human interaction.
Altova MissionKit 2009
The requirement to submit financial data in XBRL means that companies of all sizes and types will need tools for viewing and extending standard XBRL taxonomies, transforming data in backend accounting systems to XBRL, and publishing XBRL data in various formats for communication with shareholders and other interested parties.

When you think about it, the main problem in tackling a problem like this is that those who understand the requirements — the financial personnel — are generally not technical enough to work with the tools to make it happen. Those who understand the tools are lacking in the financial expertise. This is where the Altova MissionKit 2009 comes in.

The Altova MissionKit contains three main tools to let the developers process the data properly. The first tool is Altova XML Spy 2009. They have added an integrated XBRL Taxonomy editor. This adds new functionality to XMLSpy that includes an overview window where users can view their files as well as open them for validation or editing.

XMLSpy also adds additional features for simplifying your taxonomies including a Namespace Dialog for creating and color coding your namespace references. It adds Elements tab to graphically display information about your taxonomy concepts which will give your users a clearer view of the architecture as well as providing dimensionality and semantic meaning

There is a new Relationship tab that let users edit concept relationships, or arcroles, graphically with drag and drop functionality and entry helpers to simplify the creation complex dimensional taxonomies. Finally, XMLSpy also can be used to validate both XBRL taxonomies and XBRL instance files to ensure more accurate and compliant financial reporting.

Altova MissionKit 2009The next thing that the MissionKit addresses is that XBRL data typically needs to be transformed from another storage format such as databases, Excel, accounting systems (ERP, etc.), or even XML and then be electronically transferred. This is where Altova MapForce 2009 comes in.

MapForce 2009 is an any-to-any graphical data mapping and integration tool with support for transforming XML, databases, flat files, EDI, Excel 2007, Web services, and now XBRL, into other data formats and/or structures. This lets XBRL users extract data from one system and convert it into compliant XBRL instance documents, or transform the XBRL data received for repurposing in any number of ways.

By allowing these tasks to be either one-timers, or automated through code generation via Java, C#, or C++, you have the ability be flexible in your approach. If you need a repeatable and manageable process, you have it. By using the graphical drag-and-drop interface, you can easily map XBRL from or to any other format supported by MapForce.

One additional note on MapForce 2009, they have added support for HL7 v2.x EDI messages. HL7 (Health Level 7) is a collection of message formats used by healthcare organizations to comply with international mandates for the secure transmission of clinical data. This will allow users to insert a HL7 message as the source or target of any data mapping project and then translate it to and from these different formats as well as HIPAA X12.

The third key component takes care of XBRL Rendering. Stylesheets can be used to transform XBRL data into formats such as HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word 2007 (OOXML). The problem is that the XSL vocabulary was not created for XBRL and does not have the capacity to understand the relationships that are represented in taxonomy documents.

StyleVision 2009 is a graphical style sheet designer for rendering output in these formats based on XML, databases, and now XBRL taxonomies. To create a XBRL report, users are able to drag and drop a taxonomy financial statement onto the design pane as an XBRL table and then use StyleVision's graphical interface to format style sheets for simultaneous output in these various formats.

Altova MissionKit 2009The bottom line is that if you have to put together XBRL documents, you have a choice of doing the manual hand-coded way which not only takes more time, but is not conducive to accurate validation. Or you can use a set of tools that can not only facilitate the job to make it easier, but provide validation as well as streamline your workflow.

The Altova MissionKit 2009 provides you all of these tools in one consistent interface. It will help you take advanced and automate the way that financial data is captured, shared, reported, and analyzed. If you want to take control of your XBRL data management, then I highly recommend the Altova MissionKit 2009.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.