By many accounts, XBRL technology will be the must-have financial reporting technology of the future. But if that prognostication is true, it's still news to many firms that offer public securities and file financial reports. It's even more remote to companies that advise public mutual funds, despite the urging of regulators to dive into XBRL filings.

XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is a dialect of sorts to other XML languages and is an open standard for businesses to communicate over the Internet. No one owns the rights to XBRL, so there are no proprietary or licensing fees to pay. XBRL International and its domestic arm, XBRL-US, are both consortiums that are coordinating efforts to standardize the use of XBRL for financial reporting, and educating people on its uses and benefits. Members now total 300 companies.

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