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RE: XRBL & Other Goodies

From: Todd Boyle
Subject: RE: XRBL & Other Goodies
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 20:54:15 -0800

At 01:53 PM 3/10/02, Coffin, Zachary P wrote:
Derek, Hi.  Sorry for the delay - we just got back from the XBRL Int'l
meeting in Berlin.  Good progress.  Your questions -

>So, in general, I wonder why Todd wants to describe things the way he
>does. Let me guess.  Is it because he’s as biased as everyone else?
>Now, here’s the part where Todd says it just the big companies.  No,
>XBRL is for any organization, including SMEs, government agencies,

Since Zack Coffin has come back to promote XBRL and repeat his ad-hominem
attacks against me, I would like to expand upon my responses for the record.
This is different from my earlier post, and includes more factual information
useful to the GNUE community.

Zachary Coffin <address@hidden> said 24 Feb 2002

> Todd, you really, really do the world a great disservice.  I’m sure
> anyone reading your posts, probably thinks you’re an okay guy.  I used
> to be your champion even.  But let me just say, anyone on this list who
> hasn’t yet met Todd, should beware; those of you who have, already
> know what I’m talking about.  Now let me back that up -

Regarding "disservice", to the contrary, promoting a healthy debate, and
counterbalancing XBRL's multimillion dollar publicity campaigns with
facts and opinion, is doing a service.  That's democracy.

Your post does not address the key issues.  More of your word-count
is directed at me, as a person than on issues.  That's characteristic
of the CPA community, and XBRL Consortium in particular, to attack and
discredit its opponents instead of addressing fundamental issues.

By the way, I never pretended to be a "Okay guy".

> Todd’s statement:
>  “the XBRL GL which is occasionally released to the public after it's
> been decided by their members”
> Fact:
>  XBRL International has released the *DRAFT* GL taxonomy for public
> review and comment several times.  That’s why we have offered it to
> the world for comment.  The GL has not yet been released as a XBRL
> standard.
> Zack Opinion: Wonder why Todd wants to misrepresent the facts.

Your "FACT" is nothing but a lie.  XBRL makes *all* architecture
decisions unilaterally, within its governance policy.  XBRL Consortium
"public review and comment" are just a black hole, when people
contribute reviews or comments.  The Consortium savors them a few
months, picks what serves their own interest and discards the rest.

Real standards bodies first of all, have an open dialog during the
design phase instead of releasing "drafts" only when they're about to
release the final version.  Real standards bodies don't charge $10,000
for the privilege of participating and voting on design.   (That is the
annual membership rate I would have to pay, as an independent CPA and
developer. That's $833/month.)

> Zack Opinion: Wonder why Todd wants to misrepresent the facts.

In this comment Zack is making three statements:

 - that I am "misrepresenting the facts",
 - that I am doing this willfully, and
 - that I have some undisclosed motive to "misrepresent facts."

This is like asking whether I have stopped beating my wife.  This
is called demagoguery*1+0

Let me disclose why I oppose XBRL.  I want an open standard for the
exchange of transactions between business applications especially GLs.
I had been working on this for years before XBRL started in 1999. XBRL
has acted in bad faith by their fud and vapor announcements and high-fee
arrangement, and set back any progress on GL interfaces by years.  I was
one of the proponents who had lobbied the AICPA and other groups to get
involved and define a standard GL schema.  When XFRML was approved,
I promoted it widely.  But now, I feel quite ripped off by what they
have actually done.  (XBRL is a business activity of the AICPA.)

When the XBRL came along in 1999, with great fanfare, they paralyzed the
market with their promises of a standard General Ledger schema. I, and a
lot of other people, thought that was the ONLY thing they needed to
produce, but of course they went on to produce this heavy XML/XLink/XSLT
bloatware.  Guess why.  Because it keeps accounting software complex,
increases the rate of software upgrades, requires more hardware thus
triggering new operating system sales, and creates barriers to entry for
smaller developers into midrange and ERP software.

In any case, the XBRL Consortium released their f/r frameworks.  The
character of the group was really influenced by the enthusiam and
participation of downstream financial advisors/banking/reporting
communities.  There was genuine demand-pull, which was lacking of
course from individuals or SMEs who are completely unrepresented in
the XBRL Consortium or anyplace else.

XBRL Consortium did nothing towards a GL schema for two critical years
during the best part of the internet bubble, when the GL schema was
badly needed.  The lack of any standard GL schema remains as one of the
major factors preventing widespread adoption of online webledgers and
settlements.  (The flameout of webledger vendors has been so dramatic,
it has poisoned the wells for 5 to 10 years.  Today, the only
remaining commercial webledgers have a) deep pocket owners like Oracle,
Sage and Intuit or VC keiretsu supporting them, and b) have offline
clients of one form or another.)

Finally in 2001 XBRL releases the fact that the XBRL General Ledger
schema is to be a taxonomy plug-in for the XBRL financial reporting
framework.  The XBRL 2.0 framework is so totally unfit as an EAI
or e-business schema for computable exchanges of transactions, as
to be laughable.  It is at best a logfile format for transactions
after the fact of execution, and accounting classification.

Now you know why I am criticizing XBRL, and regard it as unhelpful.
To them, GL semantics are just a plaything for adding value to XBRL 2.0.
I wish XBRL would either get serious about a General Ledger interface
schema, or stop pretending it has a GL interface solution.

> Todd’s statement:
>  “Inevitably our three GL groups will zero in on the accurate picture
> and combine the models. Meanwhile they don't talk to me so, I can't tell
> you what the h*ll they are up to.”
> Fact:
>  XBRL and UN/CEFACT announced a liaison/alliance to tackle this area a
> year ago.  You know that.  You’ve known it a long time -
> Zack Opinion: Wonder why Todd wants to misrepresent others.

What are you talking about?  I didn't misrepresent anybody.

I said that the three GL groups will end up converged on the same
vocabulary.  Any idiot can see that the planet of 6 billion people
doesn't care about XBRL or you or me.  The planet already knows what a
general ledger is, and has had a very clear idea of the definition of
terms like Ledger, Account, Post, Amount, Debit, Credit, Description,
etc. for at least 500 years.  Every GL has a core of some dozens of
synonyms and semantic assumptions.  Unlike Zack Coffin, I work full time
in this field for a few yars and have done the research

Eric Cohen of XBRL has already done this research, and Robert Lemense
has done more research than any of us.  There are probably a hundred
guys who know this shit, working for SAP, Sage, etc. and now, Microsoft.

The difference is that none of those 100 guys does *anything* but scheme
and connive how to lock in users and make money with their knowledge.
Eric and Robert are a completely different breed, much better.  But they
don't deliver their research to the general public.  They deliver it in
closed communities, through this dance called "standards organizations"
who are really run by very wealthy interests.  Then, the compiled result
of it is dictated in the form of a completed "standard". (Which has

Why don't you guys quit that lousy outfit and get involved with McCarthy and
guys like Jim Clark and John Yunker etc. who are really trying to create
a computable business process framework?  First of all it would get you
out of this suck-up financial reporting between CEO's and their
stockholders, which is a lousy business for anybody who has a good mind.

But more importantly, the BP modeling really needs help with their
accounting.  You could really create economic value in the operating
companies --making the pie bigger-- and at the same time, automate more
of financial reporting.  And rather than giving more leverage to the
largest global companies, you would be helping both small and
large companies.

Regarding your "liaison" between XBRL and EWG, where is it?  There is no
mailing list, no website, no information whatsoever about this liaison
other than these inflated press releases, which puff up the glorious and
intimidating images of XBRL and EWG.  And invite us to meetings mostly
overseas, which altogether would cost another $10,000 per year on top of
our $10,000 dues.

I was perfectly honest when I said, "I do not know what the h*ll they
are up to".   Nor does anybody else.

> Todd’s statement: “I actually was stupid enough to fly to Orlando in
>  December to meet with the XBRL GL group.  For a full 8-hour day, they
>  did maintain an astonishing wall of confidentiality, just as CPAs do in
>  commercial negotiations, never disclosing anything of their positions
>  in design of a general ledger schema or economic ontology.”
> Fact: Unverifiable.  His words against ours.

How ironic.  There was even a point when Zack wanted to discuss an
issue, and was sternly told three times in a row by a higher ranking
XBRL person, the topic was not to be discussed in this meeting, and
could only be discussed privately within the XBRL.  It was sick.  sick.

Nevermind.  The point is, I have no interest in political and market
crap. I went to Orlando hoping to discuss some key issues about what
needs to be supported in a General Ledger schema.  For examples of these
concerns, see and   Nothing of this nature was
discussed by the XBRL team. As it turned out, Walter Hamscher of the
XBRL Consortium directed the meeting fairly tightly, around two goals:

 - to understand Bill McCarthy's issues or concerns with the XBRL GL,
     (which he did explain), and

 - to get some agreement from our group (the AR/AP project) to avoid
     fragmenting the market or competing with the XBRL by trying to
     provide an internal interface schema between GLs and application
     software.  Since that has been the total, fundamental goal since
     we started our project, and the XBRL 2.0 Framework does not meet
     these goals, we did not agree.  I have not circulated that
     correspondence publicly but if cornered, I will do so.

> Zack Opinion: As one of the participants in that meeting, let me just
>  assure you that I have zero interest in meeting with someone for 8
>  hours on a Saturday merely to “maintain an astonishing wall of
>  confidentiality.”  Was that really my purpose?  No, it was the same
>  reason as why XBRL was in Orlando in the first place.  We sponsored the
>  first Interoperability Summit with OMG, OAG, OASIS, UN/CEFACT and HR-
>  XML.  Does anyone really think I’d maintain some “wall of
>  confidentiality” for 8 hours?  Listen, why waste the time.  If
>  that’s all we did, why did we even bother staying more than 10
>  minutes?  Why not go enjoy our Saturday.  No, we made a last final
>  attempt to work with Todd.  I used to be Todd’s champion.  I’ve
>  given up.
> So, in general, I wonder why Todd wants to describe things the way he
> does. Let me guess.  Is it because he’s as biased as everyone else?

Of course I am!  :-)

Regarding this "attempt to work with Todd" it was nothing but an
ultimatum that I should renounce any intention that our GL interface
was for the purpose of either GL integration or delivering reports!
Like I said:  I have the emails to prove this point.   It was Yalta.

Incidentally, I salute the OMG's efforts at Interoperability. Their MDA
(model driven architecture) and UML are is the right approach for
expressing computable models And as such, MDA is the
proper approach for articulating standards for General Ledger interfaces
as well as financial reporting interfaces.  There have been repeated
efforts the past 18 months to get XBRL Consortium to model GAAP and its
financial reporting framework, in UML.  (Turns out, GAAP is so full of
discretionary judgment that most of the professionals inside FASB and
IASB think it's hopeless to even model the classifications of GAAP
financial statements, let alone the rules for classification of
transactions into GAAP.  They won't support it and neithe will SEC.)
So, the XBRL framework is kind of a neat framework for content
distribution that can support multiple taxonomies and supports totals
and stuff.  But the taxonomies themselves, are a problem.

Most people think of Corba when they think of OMG but actually they have
accelerated, if anything, their work to the point it's above the visible
spectrum for most people.  They roll their eyes back at XML syntax as a
choice of expression of semantic standards.  The AR/AP team is doing the
best we can to articulate our OMG submssion as a PIM (platform
independent model) with an IDL PSM (platform specific model).  We are
doing our best to express its interface semantics, also, in a syntax
neutral form in accordance with ebXML Core Components and ISO 11179
specifications.  That means, the user can choose whatever programming
language and syntax they want. Comma delimited, YAML, EDI or whatever.

In comparison, the XBRL's GL standard requires that the user swallow
not only the whole XML cruft, but furthermore, the XBRL FRamework 2.0 of
financial reporting, as their syntax just to get a General Ledger
interface between, say, their palm pilot and Peachtree or Quickbooks!

So, Zack: Since you have lots of energy then, it could benefit the
community if you channel it into attacking my architecture   To date, none of the XBRL people or D14 people
has had the professional decency to review or comment on any of our work.

> Todd’s NEVER-MADE statement: “I’m as biased as everyone else.”
> Fact: Todd Boyle works for NetAccount, a commercial company.

Sheesh.  It's been in my signature block since I was hired. It's on my
website on the "about" page.  NetAccount was a company dedicated to
standards.  They are the same company as Economica, who co-authored the
OMG's General Ledger in 1997-99.  They and SINTEF also of Norway,
plunged over $1 million into just the current effort to create an OMG
specification for Accounts Receivable/Payable.  What were their
payoffs?   None expected, and none received.

Netaccount is gone, anyway.  Like every other independent webledger.
They laid off all their people, in stages thru the 4th quarter and Jan
and Feb.  I was memoed Jan 31.

I was working on GLs before NetAccount hired me and will keep working on GLs
for the forseeable future.  Nobody at Netaccount could force me to shut
up, or change my views, any more than you guys at XBRL or the whole
worthless public accounting profession.

> Zack Opinion:
>  Everyone has some human bias.  But the difference between Todd/ArapXML
> and XBRL International (or Todd and the rest of the world), is that the
> first is driven by ONE person/company and the second is a group process
> - in XBRL’s case, 150 vendors, accounting firms, users, regulators,
> etc. from around the world WORKING TOGETHER.  Trust me, not just in
> Todd’s case, but always, the collaborative standards approach is
> safer.  Everyone knows Todd only wants things HIS way (or, maybe I
> should say, NetAccount’s way).  But that’s not how standards are
> created.  You don’t have a standard unless your users, vendors,
> regulators and competitors are sitting at the table arguing with and
> against you -- to produce the standards.  That’s XBRL.

I think what you said about XBRL is fairly accurate. It is large, and
it is a group of 150 vendors, etc.  You're quite mistaken about me, however,
I don't give a fuck *what* the GL standard is, as long as it has a
snowball's chance of meeting its requirements.  What I protest is that
GL interfaces are a shell game where the pea is changed to a different
shell every year, preventing the owner of the data from integration
or migration.   And XBRL is trying to perpetuate this situation.

I repeat: I will not rest until there is an unambiguous GL interface
standard that allows the owner of the information to move it freely
among all his business applications.   As long as software vendors
refuse to release our information, I will continue to throw tomatoes
and make catcalls, at you "suits" up there on stage.

> On top of it all, Todd even criticizes the UN with “the UN/CEFACT
> bodies only conduct their dialog in private discussions, and in physical
> meetings every 6 months in international locations, usually outside the
> US.”  What would he like - that all the meetings be in the U.S. so
> that poorer countries criticize it as a U.S. thing?  And Todd, it’s
> really pretty bad when you attack a guy like Robert Lemense - who’s
> put years of his life into standards - when you say, “The guy is 65,
> he is part of the French EDI establishment.”  That’s as bad as if
> someone said, “That guy’s only 18 - what does he know?”

The UN/CEFACT is a bunch of folks who maintain EDI standards. That is,
messages between enterprise-scale companies and some small minority of
large midranges.  There is no natural constituency in this fractious
group for an EDI message for accounting content.

I spent tons, personally and my company spent more, on UN/CEFACT
meetings.  Those cost major bucks.  No small businesses anywhere.

Everything I said is true.  There is no public dialogue whatsoever
available on the internet for this tiny "D14" group. No mailing list, no
website.  It is moribund, intellectually other than a very few people
like Robert.  Robert himself, is a windbag and is more dedicated to
maintaining his supremeness more than discussing any General Ledger
design issues.  I urge all of you who question this characterization
to simply, read his posts.  They do not address design issues for
GL schemas.

In conclusion the D14 is a dysfunctional organization lacking any online
collaboration process, and lacking the technical or organizational
resources to define a high quality framework for the accounting
recognition of economic events arising out of e-business.

Nevertheless the D14 does proceed to control the accounting semantics
for the UN/CEFACT.  Robert Lemense has submitted, and received
approval, for his eWG Project Accounting and Auditing Core Component
Library.  It's not on the web but Robert or somebody, sent me a copy.
I am posting it on my website tonight,

As you can see, since at least Jan 14th, there have been draft GL
components circulated among vendors and insiders of the D14 and
EWG, by this "open" process but not available to the public.  I have
asked Robert Lemense for copies of those, but he always refuses.
He says to follow the procedures for becoming a member of the
inside group.   This makes me puke.   What good to be a member
of the insider group when its discussions will still remain, by phone
and very infrequent meetings?  The group **has no online process.**

> Anyone who wants to learn more about XBRL, please go to
> If you want to learn more about XBRL specifically for G/L, go to
>, or for more detail,
> XBRL is creating the standards for financial statements, G/L, regulatory
> filings, statistics, etc. - anything that describes an organization’s
> performance or risk.  We are working from the sub-ledger to macro-
> economic statistics - the whole information reporting supply chain.
> Somewhere this thread began with a question about ERP standards.  SAP,
> Oracle, Peoplesoft, Fujitsu (yes, in Japan, they have ERP software),
> etc. are all members of XBRL.  SAP is scheduled to be XBRL compliant
> this year - second quarter if I’m not mistaken.
> Now, here’s the part where Todd says it just the big companies.  No,
> XBRL is for any organization, including SMEs, government agencies, non-
> profit organizations, etc.  We’re even opening up a new category of
> membership, for academics or individuals non-affiliated with a company.
> In the meantime, the following organizations are members of XBRL and
> have COMMITTED to XBRL-enabling their products or services -


> The world is moving towards this single business reporting framework.  I
> encourage those of you interested in standards, to get involved.  As a
> start, please register at and go to and review the messages
> at
> Thanks for your consideration.
> Regards,
> Zack
> P.S. Todd/Mr.NetAccount, since you’ve attacked Eric and Robert behind their > back, I’ve taken the liberty of cc’ing them on this email in case they want
> to add anything.  I think people want to know the truth.

This is a public mailing list.  Eric and Robert are aware of it and in
any case I did not attack them.  They have taken up positions to
pronounce General Ledger standards.  Their actions deserve scrutiny just
as do senators or congressmen.  I am doing the American thing, by
arguing with them.

Many independent CPAs in the United States are fed up with the AICPA
itself, and regard it as more of a problem than a benefit.   Here is one
of the active newsgroups mostly dedicated to opposing AICPA activities
that do not serve CPAs, and undoing the AICPA monopoly.

There has also been, for many years in the U.S. opposition to European-
centric standards for e-business, such as EDIFACT and these "Domain
Groups" such as the D14.  Until recently, I thought those opponents were
just protectionists.  Now, I am beginning to understand where they are
coming from.

Give us a GL schema.  Not a taxonomy for XBRL.  No more delays or manuevers.

Todd Boyle CPA  9745-128th Ave NE  Kirkland WA
International Accounting Services, LLC
address@hidden  425-827-3107  project

> Zachary Coffin
> ザッカリー コッフィン
> XBRL International Steering Committee
> address@hidden
> KPMG Global XBRL Leader
> 355 South Grand Avenue, Suite 2000
> Los Angeles, CA 90071-1568  USA
> Tel: +1-213-955-8508 * Fax: +1-213-630-5196
> Email: address@hidden

-----Original Message-----
From: Todd Boyle [mailto:address@hidden
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 7:41 PM
To: Neil Tiffin; Derek A. Neighbors; Ke Deng
Cc: GNUe
Subject: Re: ERP standards
[snip - see ]

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