“By thinking of taxonomies as modular ‘building blocks’, it is easier to design and maintain these sometimes complex products.” So says Erwin Kaats, XBRL expert at Logius, in a new post in the Taggings section of the XBRL International website on behalf of the Taxonomy Architecture Guidance Task Force (TAGTF).

XBRL taxonomies are a bit like dictionaries, providing all the information needed for a meaningful, consistent machine-readable digital tag. They define concepts, their attributes and interrelationships. As one might expect, the reporting concepts in different taxonomies are often the same, or closely related. This post introduces terminology types, structure and terminology, and discusses how we can think of taxonomies not as a stand-alone product but as something to build with.

“When creating a taxonomy, it is wise to bear in mind that others might be interested in reusing elements, and to make them as easy to understand and use as possible,” it concludes. “Not only might other organisations benefit from existing knowledge, but this approach also adds value to the base taxonomy that is being reused. After all, every reusable building block developed adds a helpful starting point for new and extendable future building blocks.”

TAGTF is also interested in how taxonomies are arranged in different ecosystems, so they’d love to hear about your approach – you can contact them at tagtf@xbrl.org.