Several weeks ago the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that its new extensible business reporting language had reached a milestone, with twice as many companies participating in this year’s pilot program as last year.

Unfortunately, the news also shows that XBRL has miles and miles ahead of it, too.

The pilot program so far has enticed 17 companies—a tiny fraction of the thousands of issuers that report to the SEC. Those trial companies would file their financial statements using eXtensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, a data-tagging methodology that would provide greater flexibility to users. Using XBRL, companies provide data to the ...