Image and File field types in the Common Data Service

By 16th July 2020Product Updates
Image & File field types

Introduced earlier this year, the Image and File field types are powerful additions to the Common Data Service. We take a look at the benefits and implications of this enhancement.

Prior to this change, if a user wanted to upload a document or image against a record, a note would have to be created against the record and an attachment added to the note. While this served its purpose, it was not an intuitive user experience, and downloading or viewing the uploaded file would involve multiple clicks. As the user experience in other areas of Dynamics 365 has been steadily improved over time, particularly with the introduction of the Unified Interface, it made sense to overhaul the image/file upload process.

The File field type

Creating a new File field is the same as creating any other field type – simply select it from the Data Type dropdown when creating the field:

File Field Type

Under the ‘Advanced Options’ for the field, the main setting to consider is the Maximum File Size to allow to be uploaded. This defaults to 32mb but can be increased to 128mb:

File Field Type - Maximum Size

Once created, the field can be added to a form:

File upload Form

File field benefits and considerations

  • As this field type is also available in Canvas apps, building an app for a mobile device that allows the user to upload a document into Dynamics 365 and the Common Data Service becomes much more straightforward.
  • When determining storage usage, a File field is understandably counted as File storage rather than Database storage.
  • When using Power Automate or the Dynamics 365 API to request a record that includes a File field, the returned record will not include the file; this is intentional to improve performance. A separate request can be made to retrieve the file’s contents if required.
  • This field is designed to hold one file only; if you require multiple documents to be uploaded against a record, you may want to upload those via the traditional method of notes/attachments.

The Image field type

Creating a new Image field is the same as creating any other field type – simply select it from the Data Type dropdown when creating the field:

Image Field Type

An additional option available to Image fields is whether or not the image is the primary image field for the entity. An entity can have one primary image field and in some situations, this logo may be displayed on a record; for instance, a contact record may display a thumbnail of the contact’s photograph.

Under the ‘Advanced Options’ for the field, the main setting to consider is the Maximum File Size to allow to be uploaded. This defaults to 10mb but can be increased to 32mb:

Image field - Maximum Size

Additionally, you can disable the default option of ‘Can store full images’ if you only require the field to store the thumbnail of the uploaded image and not retain the original.

Once created, the field can be added to a form:

Image Upload Form

Image field benefits and considerations

  • As this field type is also available in Canvas apps, building an app for a mobile device that allows the user to upload photos into Dynamics 365 and the Common Data Service becomes much more straightforward.
  • When determining storage usage, the thumbnail is stored as database storage and the original file is stored as file storage.
  • When using Power Automate or the Dynamics 365 API to request a record that includes an Image field, the returned record will not include the image; this is intentional to improve performance. A separate request can be made to retrieve the image if required.
  • This field is designed to hold one image only; if you require multiple images to be uploaded against a record, you may want to upload those via the traditional method of notes/attachments.

Reference links for developers

Summary

The addition of these two field types further boosts the Common Data Service’s credentials as a modern and intuitive data storage platform, leading to smoother project implementations and an improved end-user experience. If you are an existing Strategy 365 client and wish to discuss these new field types, please get in touch.

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