Semantic Web

The XBRL Ontology: Financial and Economic Ontology based on XBRL Taxonomies

A new ontology development group has been formed: the XBRL Ontology Specification Group. This new ontology will describes financial and economic data in RDF.

Introduction to the XBRL Ontology

As introduced by Kingsley:

The parallel evolution of the XBRL and the Semantic Web is one of the more puzzling of technology misnomers. The Semantic Web expresses a vision about a Web of Data connected by formal meaning (Context). Congruently, XBRL espouses a vision whereby by formally defined Financial Data is accessible via the *Web (and other networks). The Semantic Web uses Schemas and Ontologies for defining Data Domains while XBRL uses Taxonomies that are XML Schema Based. The Semantic Web uses XML as one of its Data Interchange formats (i.e RDF/XML) while XBRL is based on XML at all levels (model and instance data).

It is the goal of the XBRL Ontology project that we mesh the XBRL and Semantic Web realms by producing OWL based Ontologies of XBRL Schemas that facilitate the generation of RDF Instance Data for XBRL Data Sources (e.g. XBRL Documents). This effort is not intended to supercede the use of XML Schemas in XBRL in any way. It simply provides a mechanism for exposing XBRL based Financial Data to the Semantic Web.

What are the anticipated deliverables:

  • OWL Ontologies for XBRL Taxonomies such as the XBRL GL (and others)
  • RDF instance data for said Ontologies
  • SPARQL (Semantic Web Query Language) based Access Points for XBRL Instance Data


  • Transparent integration of disparate financial systems
    • Mapping of application data (e.g. SQL) to relevant XBRL Ontologies which are then exposed to WAN (Web) or LAN (Intranet) via SPARQL access points
  • Easy mechanism for plugging into burgeoning Semantic Data Web

Current people participating to that project

Some people already started to talk about the development of the XBRL Ontology and are interested (or are already in) to join this new ontology development group. These people are:

Development communication infrastructure

Some systems are already up and running to help the development team to communicate their ideas, suggestions and questions vis-à-vis the XBRL Ontology.


This new ontology development project aim to describes financial and economic data for exchange and analysis. Some people already started to work on the project as you can notice in the list above. The development of this ontology will be based on the XBRL initiative and existing XBRL taxonomies. But it won’t restrict its expressiveness to XBRL related works only.

3 thoughts on “The XBRL Ontology: Financial and Economic Ontology based on XBRL Taxonomies

  1. Fred, you can find the MUSING project on Taking XBRL to OWL is definately a positive step towards a global scale, machine-processible network of financial reports. This could be a very interesting and valuable effort to enable a real semantic web focusing on a large real world domain. Martin Hepp has conducted this reseach on DERI Innsbruck, and I was in his team when this project was initiated last summer. You can try to contact him for more information. Moreover, personally I would also like to join your team and do some contributions too. I believe this is an exciting and huge project that needs more people to contribute and broadcast.



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