Flow Action Return Options: File Content vs. Operation ID

1st SEPT 2020 - NOTE: Whilst this feature is still supported it will be deprecated by 2023 Q1. We strongly advise that this approach for chaining actions is not used for new flows within Power Automate.

All of the Encodian Flow actions can receive a Base 64 encoded string representing the file in which operations should be performed, however, this approach can become expensive where multiple operations should be performed within a single Flow.

For example; If a 5MB Microsoft word document was converted to PDF/A format, a text watermark added and the document secured, the document (Base 64 format) must be passed between Microsoft's Flow API and Encodian's API three times (15MB transferred) not only increasing the amount of data transferred but also the speed of execution, as the operations need to wait for the data to be transferred before they can execute.

To reduce this data transfer burden we offer two different return types which are controlled by setting the 'Return File' value on the Flow action:


When the 'Return File' value is set to 'Yes' (the default value), this instructs the Encodian API to return the document in Base 64 format contained within the 'File Content' property:


This approach sends the document in (Base 64 format) backwards and forwards for every operation. The following image shows the 'File Content' value which is returned by the 'Convert to PDF to PDFA' action in the previous image:


To avoid this data overhead the 'Return File' should be set to 'No' which tells the Encodian API to return an empty 'File Content' property. Additionally, we do some clever work behind the scenes to enable the document to be stored securely on our infrastructure and accessed via the 'Operation ID'. The revised Flow action configuration is depicted below:


By using this configuration the document is not passed on each action, allowing the execution speed and reliability to increase, it also means your data throughput allocation is much less likely to be exceeded. The results of this configuration are depicted below:


Document Retention

Documents are held on Encodian infrastructure for a maximum of 4 hours, therefore if you have gaps in execution which could exceed 4 hours we recommend that you ensure documents are returned and persisted upon SharePoint, OneDrive, etc. 

This also applies where a processing error has occurred, documents will always be removed after 4 hours.


Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.
Powered by Zendesk