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Subject: Comments on XBRL draft General Ledger schema
The XBRL website announces the first drafts of the XBRL schema for General Ledger data at http://www.xbrl.org, and invites comments. The overall structure of the XBRL GL draft has three tiers, or levels, which is a good thing. There are very few publicly available GL schemas in the world. But the ones that exist generally have three-tier structures just as does the XBRL GL draft structure, accountingEntry contains entryHeader, contains entryDetail. The OMG's General Ledger facility also has three tiers. ledger contains transaction, contains entry. We believe the OAGIS Postjournal GL schema also represents the same three tier information model, although they are flattened into the POST_JOURNAL structure: LEDGER contains JEHEADER, contains JELINE. The UN/CEFACT EDIFACT messages for general ledger data include ENTREC and LEDGER. EDIFACT is intended to be universal, and provides a large number of alternative message structures to be used by two endpoints. The ENTREC and LEDGER messages are similar to all of the above schemas in that they require accounting line entries ("LIN" segments) to be owned, or organized, within transaction headers ("IND" segments), and these parent-child transactions are contained in a container with other information about the company and ledger. The information preceding EDIFACT GL header-row transaction sets, such as a journal identifier ("RJL segment") is analogous to the root element in XBRL GL, therefore you have something like RJL (journal) contains IND (index) contains LIN (line items). In conclusion these publicly available GL schemas or specifications all have equivalent structure. Names should be registered for these things as ebXML core components. The accounting community should work hard to develop a consensus and communicate it to the EWG on appropriate naming for core components for these three tiers of data within the general ledger information model. In our opinion, general ledger entries for real 3rd party transactions are almost entirely composed of the same ebXML core components as the data elements within the native transaction such as invoice, order, ship notice, payment, etc. This includes datetime, amount, products, parties, organizational structure, location, etc. etc. The accounting community will not have the freedom to define these in the registry of core components. They are native transaction attributes, and they are owned by the entire business community. What is needed, but not yet done, is to define core components for GL itself. OMG, OAG, UN/CEFACT, and now XBRL, should agree on the same names for the headers, rows and for the "container" of headers and rows. These enable the assembly of GL entries as documents, under ebXML assembly rules, and transformation of all transaction documents into and out of general ledgers. This is crucial to using ebXML messaging and BP choreography for A2A integration inside the firm. Names should be registered for these things as ebXML core components by EWG http://www.edifact-wg.org/ There are two steps. 1. The accounting community should participate vocally, here and on EWG, in the conceptual necessity for three-tiered structure of a GL (which I advocate, and agree with XBRL about.) This is a classic ISO 11179 question. ISO 11179 uses syntax neutral identifiers for concepts, to avoid the divisive problems of language and naming. Review of the existing GL schemas demonstrates that conceptual agreement already exists for the meaning and usage of three tiered structure of GL data. 2. The accounting community should then participate in agreeing on naming of the three tiers of general ledger information. In my view, the responsible representatives from each of the standards organizations , OMG FDTF, OAG, UN/CEFACT D14 and XBRL having existing GL schemas should also participate in the determination of common naming, and sunset their disparate naming of these obvious things. Our suggestion for naming ebXML core components for general ledgers, the common intellectual property of all of the global GL user community, would begin with GL: GLTransactionSet contains GLTransaction contains GLEntry This GL-prefixed naming will help future users find these elements in dictionaries and registries, and differentiate these GL components from other very similar-named "transaction" and "entry" vocabulary which will be needed by many other communities. The names of ebXML core components are unique, and once assigned cannot easily be changed. Establishing clear naming that is usable in multiple contexts is quite valuable. The same terms can be used in some of our human readable runtime and user interfaces as well as at designtime and in software objects, IDL, Java, scripting languages such as perl, python, etc. This will improve the speed we can automate bookkeeping which is so badly needed. We humbly submit draft definitions below. Thank you for your consideration. Morten Jacobsen Executive Vice President Next Gen. Services Netaccount AS, Norway www.netaccount.com email@example.com +47 9822 7310 Todd Boyle CPA Functional architect, Netaccount AS, Oslo, NO www.netaccount.com www.arapxml.net www.gldialtone.com ================ SUGGESTED EBXML CORE COMPONENT DEFINITIONS: GLEntry -- a monetary value assigned to a specific economic resource, in an arms-length exchange between two or more parties at a specific date and time, together with any collection of additional data elements pertaining to the GLEntry. GLTransaction -- a balanced set of 2 or more instances of GLEntry, together with any collection of additional data elements pertaining to all GLEntry instances in the GLTransaction. GLTransactionSet -- a collection of GLTransaction elements, together with any collection of additional data elements pertaining to all GLTransaction instances in the GLTransactionSet. ============ MORE ELEMENTS THAT APPEAR TO BE NECESSARY, =====AND MIGHT AS WELL GO INTO THE FIRST BATCH OF CORE COMPONENTS: GLAccount -- an identifier which uniquely associates or classifies one GLEntry with one corresponding account in the chart of accounts, i.e. with one line in an accounting trial balance. generalLedger -- a set of 1 or more GLTransactionSet elements.
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