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RE: [xml-dev] XPointer is dead. What about XLink?


I imagine that one reason the XBRL organization chose the Xlink vocabulary
was simply the perception of it being a 'standard'. Embracing XML as a
standard was very effective for the organizations adoption efforts so why
not Xlink as well.  It has been broadly accepted in the international
community and used by multiple regulators around the world. Little did we
know that XBRL would be the lead horse relative to Xlink use but still, we
could point to it as a standard supported by the W3C.  That was an important
aspect of the business case for its use.

And from a use perspective, it seems to achieve what it needs to achieve.  I
just don't have the benefit of comparing it to a different xml
implementation designed for a similar purpose and achieving similar results.
I have looked at schemas that contain similar information in one file and
they look incomprehensibly busy to me.  Kind of like dumping a database into
a spreadsheet.

The Xlink vocabulary allows an XBRL taxonomy designer to easily model a
business report with different linkbases for different types of
relationships. For general use, the taxonomies includes linkbases that
define presentational relationships, summation relationships,
multi-dimensional relationships, different labels that are available for
presentation use, and a linkbase for reference to external resources, which
for financial reporting is the authoritative literature. There is also a
business rules linkbase and a "generic" linkbase. These separate linkbases
are very flexible.  A couple of current examples, the FASB just published a
linkbase that drops right into US-GAAP taxonomies without requiring a
revision to the schemas - plug and play - and the IASB continues to release
new language linkbases for the IFRS that similarly requires no changes to
the base schemas but allows the user to select the language of choice for
the labels.

I imagine there are other standardized ways to achieve these outcomes I just
don't know what they are.  I've read some things about RDF/OWL and the idea
that XBRL's future might be here but I've not done enough research yet to
really understand it.

Louis Matherne

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Kay [mailto:mike@saxonica.com] 
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 1:25 PM
To: 'Louis Matherne'; xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] XPointer is dead. What about XLink?

> I'd be very interested in hearing 
> your perspective or learning what you would have done 
> different with XBRL relative to its structure and 
> specifically Xlink, which is fundamental to its architecture.

I think the interesting question to ask is whether XBRL gains any benefits
as a result of the decision to use the XLink vocabulary for linking, rather
than inventing its own? For example, does the reuse of vocabulary elements
enable any reuse of an underlying software layer? Or does it enable the
reuse of skills and knowledge associated with that vocabulary? Because
unless it achieves such benefits, it would surely have been better to design
a vocabulary more finely tuned to the specific needs of XBRL.


Michael Kay


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