Creative Solutions Gives XBRL a New Embrace

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Creative Solutions, one of the first prominent accounting practice software vendors to embrace XBRL, the Internet-based technology that tags data items in financial reports so they can be immediately retrieved, has expanded its relationship with that evolving technology through an alliance with Rivet Software, a specialist developer of financial reporting systems.

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Under the arrangement, Creative Solutions, a business of Thomson Corporation, will make XBRL technology from Rivet's Dragon line available to users of its product line whose flagship Ultra Tax tax preparation software is available in a CS Professional Suite that includes 15 separate accounting practice applications.

Rivet's Dragon line, designed to automate the process of adding XBRL to electronic documents, consists of a Microsoft Word and Excel based system that enables users to add XBRL essentially with a mouse click, and a separate tool the ensures the accuracy of the XBRL-ized documents.

XBRL, which stands for Extensible Business Report Language, is a derivation of Extensible Markup Language, an Internet industry framework for languages that describes data and establishes individual “tags” for specific elements in structured documents. Because items are individually tagged, report preparers can readily re-position specific elements in financial reports to satisfy requirements of different parties, such as lenders, regulators, investors and analysts, and those parties can automatically retrieve and collate the items they want.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has for the past year been advocating XBRL's use by public companies, and in a current request for proposals (RFP) for a new manager of its EDGAR database, it requests that the next manager be able to convert EDGAR to an XBRL-based system. That sets the stage for the SEC to potentially mandate that companies use XBRL to report to it.

To be sure, the SEC has not indicated if such a XBRL mandate is forthcoming or could ever occur. But just the prospect of it has made software companies more interested in adding that technology.

"Our partnership with Thomson Creative Solutions helps further our commitment to providing accounting and finance professionals with the applications they need to make XBRL reporting both simple and cost-effective,” said Robert Rohan, executive vice president at Rivet. “By allowing Creative Solutions customers to create and view XBRL documents within the familiar environment of Microsoft Excel, we hope to further drive XBRL adoption."

Creative Solutions became a software vendor pioneer of XBRL in 2002 when it added the capability to export XBRL-tagged reports in its products. At that time, the technology had been under development for about three years by a group of technology and information companies assembled by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), and it was struggling to gain market recognition.

That beginning has since led to a U.S. based XBRL consortium,, with more than 60 members, a 450-member international development consortium, separate efforts in countries across the world, and an SEC effort that has included two separate programs to encourage companies to report with XBRL.

The SEC has high hopes for XBRL, but at last count less than 50 companies were using XBRL under the programs the agency has orchestrated.

Creative Solutions, meanwhile, is hopeful of XBRL's near-term future with accountants. “Because XBRL provides the most efficient means for financial reporting, it is beginning to be adopted by tax and accounting professionals as standard practice," said Brian Vroom, Creative Solutions' vice president of development. "We wanted to offer our customers a proven, quality solution to handle all their XBRL needs"

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