Today is a very satisfying day for many of us at Business Wire and we think it’s also a good day for investor relations. After several years of development and more than a year of working with our downstream partners, Business Wire’s XHTML feed is now being carried on Yahoo! Finance.
Why is this important? XHTML (eXtensible HyperText Markup Language) enables us and IR professionals to break a decades-long limitation in how earnings tables are transmitted, presented and re-utilized. Limitations in data feeds and ANPA and ASCII languages and technology have meant that tables could be no longer than 70 characters in width, could not support underlines, bold text or bulleted lists. This means tables are often difficult for humans to read and harder for computers to parse in today’s automated times.
Earnings Tables that are Easier for Humans and Computers
Enter XHTML. With XHTML, we present tables that closely mirror how they appear in their original spread sheet format. Wider, with underlined headers and numbers. And they are more easily readable by humans and electronic systems. For humans, the benefits are obvious.
Look at these two examples of tables:
- The first, issued by Business Wire as it appears on Yahoo! Finance has white space, bolded headers, bulleted lists and clearly readable and aligned tables.
- The second, issued by a competitor as it appears on Yahoo! Finance, is still limited by the ASCII/ANPA restrictions.
Each element of the Business Wire NewsML press release in XHTML is tagged – the content within the headline, body copy, tables, contact information, etc. so that systems can find and utilize the exact data they need. This ultimately helps news organizations to speed the reporting of earnings results and further levels the playing field for access to corporate financial data.
This is a very big “next step” in our ongoing efforts to change the way media, syndicates, financial information services and consumer sites handle content. Our patented Internet “NX” delivery system is the backbone for this system. We have spent countless development hours and invested millions of dollars in building a smarter system to simultaneously deliver rich content to end users. We’re working on getting more systems online with XHTML in the near future.