The XBRL Challenge was a contest held in 2013 and 2012 to discover the top open source analytical tools that can mine XBRL-formatted corporate financial data from the SEC’s EDGAR database. The contest awarded $20,000 Grand Prizes in each year to the contestants submitting the most useful and user-friendly application conducting innovative analysis of public companies. The 2013 winner was Sector3 and Calcbench won in 2012.

What kind of apps did we look for?

Tools that rely on XBRL data from public company financial statements and that provide highly functional, strong analytics, e.g., performing multi-company year-to-year comparisons and ratio analysis.

Criteria for judging:

  • Improves access – enables investor stakeholder access to corporate data
  • Usability – application quality, usability, and accessibility
  • Analytics – provides minimum multi-company comparison, year-to-year comparisons, ratio analysis or other functions designed to help investor decision-making
  • Design – originality and creativity, cannot be drawn from an existing design

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  • Alfred Berkeley, Vice Chairman, Gentag, Inc.
  • Eric Gillespie, CEO and Founder, Poplicus
  • Kaitlin Lee, Senior Developer, Sunlight Foundation
  • Paul Ratnaraj, Director, Advanced Initiatives, WRDS (Wharton Research Data Services)
  • Philip Moyer, Managing Director, Safeguard Scientifics

Learn more about our Judges.


Over 8800 US public companies report their financial statements in XBRL format. Data produced in XBRL format is computer-readable which gives it greater portability, reliability, accuracy and timeliness, and can provide individual and institutional investors with better information for investment decisions. With XBRL, investors around the world, both individual and institutional, have access to data with greater functionality.

Given the increased volume of corporate data now available globally in XBRL format, marketplace demand for tools to access XBRL data is on the rise and now is the optimal time to raise awareness and encourage development of tools for analysis. This challenge is designed to encourage the development of tools that can take advantage of the XBRL specification.

Participants to the contest will contribute open source applications for investors that leverage XBRL data from public companies. The goal of the program is to raise awareness among innovators, technologists, software providers and data aggregators about the wealth of XBRL data now available, and to encourage the development of investor applications for commercial use. Successful applications must demonstrate the unique functionality of XBRL, including improved timeliness and accuracy, and most importantly, they must provide strong, useable analytics that help users make investment decisions. They must be open source and must be able to consume XBRL filings prepared by companies in the US.

Questions? Email

2013 Competitors


Extracts data for multi-company comparison via desktop application, web service, or API. Provides fully confomant implementation of XBRL processor including validation, formula processing, versioining, and rendering. Both XBRL Formula and Sphinx 2.0 Rules are supported. Arelle’s validation includes XBRL 2.1, XBRL dimensions, SEC Edgar Filer Manual, IFRS Global Filer Manual, HMRC, and SBR. Arelle is in production use by government agencies, filers, banks, and individuals.

Financial Information Observation System (FIOS)

FIOS enables users to extract and analyze multidimensional data interactively from the SEC Edgar, Yahoo Finance and Wikipedia/DBpedia datasets. FIOS uses Linked Data principles to access and encode data. The core of the FIOS system is the OLAP data cube, which provides the aggregation, drill-down and slicing and dicing of multidimensional data sets.

Sector3 – XBRL in the 3rd Dimension

Multi-dimensional analysis in Excel focusing on business sectors (Add on to existing XBRl to XL functionality)

XBRL Decision Cloud

XBRL Decision Cloud is an online analytical community for supporting investors through supply chain of informed decision making with easy access to XBRL data, analyzing companies using online XBRL analytics, and sharing stock trade decisions in an XBRL cloud.


Our “XBRLAnalyst” tool is an Excel Add-in intended for Financial Analysts, Equity Researchers, and Investors who need a simple and direct access to companies’ financial information (provided by XBRL filings) from within their Excel spreadsheets.

XBRLFINAPP- Online Financial Analytics platform

“XBRLFINAPP”:It is an online Financial Analytics Platform. It aims to do provide key financial information form XBRL package.Here user can create/edit formula and further he can play with the formulas and do simple arithmetic operations like “+,-, and /”.

Webinar Replays

XBRL Challenge: Optimizing XBRL Analytics (1/15/2013)
Join Phillip Engel of XBRL US in a discussion with David vun Kannon, Director-XBRL, Deloitte, on how to maximize the characteristics of XBRL data to produce high quality analytics. Learn about the features of XBRL and tools you can use to get the most out of your XBRL applications (presentation as PDF).

Beyond SEC Reporting (12/11/2012)
Join Kaitlin Lee, Web Developer, Sunlight Foundation, on significant opportunities in government reporting for structured data.

The VC Market and Opportunities for XBRL Applications (11/27/2012)
Join Philip Moyer, Managing Director, Safeguard Scientifics, where he is responsible for sourcing opportunities in financial technology and Enterprise 3.0. Philip was previously President and CEO of EDGAR Online.

XBRL Software and Data (11/6/2012)
Join Alex Rapp, co-Founder of Calcbench, Inc., the winner of the 2011 XBRL Challenge, as he shares ideas and strategies about how to process XBRL data efficiently and effectively.

Standardizing XBRL US GAAP XBRL Data – Learn about Standardization Tools Available to You Through the XBRL Challenge (9/19/2012)
Comparing public company financials is easier now with XBRL but still requires some data massaging given the 18,000 concepts in the US GAAP taxonomy and the flexibility that companies have in how they report their financial statement data.

XBRL Challenge Webinar (8/14/2012)
Join Phillip Engel, XBRL US Lead Technologist, for an in-depth look at the XBRL US Database of Public Filings, and learn about documentation to help XBRL Challenge entrants use this data resource in their applications as part of the competition.

XBRL Challenge 2012 Introductory Webinar (8/1/2012)
Media and Prospective Entrants are encouraged to join the webinar to hear rules, timeline, criteria, how to access the database, other tools available to applicants.