Web reporting technology: overview

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XML: the taxonomy based data format
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a universally preferred data description language used to describe the data we store, manipulate, and exchange via the web. The basis for this technology is a "tagging" process by which each value, item, and descriptor, etc. in the exchanged information can be given a unique set of tags with which to describe it. Using these tags, computer programs can read the data without human intervention. In short, XML is a language designed to develop other languages, such as XBRL.

Taxonomy standards, public and private: 
XML is a language designed to develop other languages. We have all used tags to exchange information. What’s your "name" and "phone" number? What is the "balance" of my account? XML uses groups of tags in the form of a "taxonomy" to describe data for a particular audience. Ernst & Young LLP is a founding sponsor of XBRL International which is developing Business Reporting Taxonomies (XBRL). These taxonomies will be used when storing or exchanging financial and operational information internally in a company, and when reporting externally to investors, analysts, regulators and customers. Its global standards consortiums are currently developing taxonomies for both vertical industry and horizontal cross-industry groups.

Assurance XBRL-How Does It Work