OLD Media Moves

EDGAR is being replaced by IDEA

August 19, 2008

Christopher Twaworski of the Washington Post writes Tuesday that the online system called EDGAR from the Securities and Exchange Commission used by thousands of business journalists to find and read SEC filings from companies is being replaced by a new system called IDEA, which stands for Interactive Data Electronic Applications.

Twaworski writes, “EDGAR is the SEC’s free, online financial dosclosure database accessible to any user on the Web, that holds financial data from more than 12,000 pubicly traded companies and 8,000 mutual funds. It is an indispensible tool for business journalists, investors, analysts and regulators. EDGAR provides transaparency, allowing users the ability to access valuable financial documents, from 10-K reports to footnotes.

“EDGAR, however, is outdated. Data is presented in one-dimensional block text. The data compiled among its countless pages of filings can be hard to navigate, search, and at times, understand. The financial disclosures of a single company can stretch on for hundreds of pages and be rich with legalese and businesspeak.

“In contrast with the 1980s-era, document-based EDGAR platform, IDEA is Internet-based. At its core will be IDEA’s utilization of the interactive data technology XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language.

“XBRL works similar to the bar code system at a grocery store, but for financials. Individual items from a companies’ financial statements are marked, or tagged, with an identification code unique to that particular item. Those tags are then readable by computer programs, just as scanners read the bar codes at checkout. The result is a universal language of ‘interactive data’ that can be read across different systems and applied to any number functions.”

Read more here.

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