How to return a PDF from a Web API application

Some Server side code to return PDF (Web Api).

public HttpResponseMessage Display(string docid) {
    HttpResponseMessage response = Request.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest);
    var documents = reader.GetDocument(docid);
    if (documents != null && documents.Length == 1) {
        var document = documents[0];
        docid = document.docid;
        byte[] buffer = new byte[0];
        //generate pdf document
        MemoryStream memoryStream = new MemoryStream();
        MyPDFGenerator.New().PrintToStream(document, memoryStream);
        //get buffer
        buffer = memoryStream.ToArray();
        //content length for use in header
        var contentLength = buffer.Length;
        var statuscode = HttpStatusCode.OK;
        response = Request.CreateResponse(statuscode);
        response.Content = new StreamContent(new MemoryStream(buffer));
        response.Content.Headers.ContentType = new MediaTypeHeaderValue("application/pdf");
        response.Content.Headers.ContentLength = contentLength;
        ContentDispositionHeaderValue contentDisposition = null;
        if (ContentDispositionHeaderValue.TryParse("inline; filename=" + document.Name + ".pdf", out contentDisposition)) {
            response.Content.Headers.ContentDisposition = contentDisposition;
    } else {
        var statuscode = HttpStatusCode.NotFound;
        var message = String.Format("Unable to find resource. Resource \"{0}\" may not exist.", docid);
        var responseData = responseDataFactory.CreateWithOnlyMetadata(statuscode, message);
        response = Request.CreateResponse((HttpStatusCode)responseData.meta.code, responseData);
    return response;

On my a View you could do something like this

<a href="" target = "_blank" class = "btn btn-success" >View document</a>

which will call the web api and open the PDF document in a new tab in the browser.

Here is how i basically do the same thing but from a MVC controller

// NOTE: Original return type: FileContentResult, Changed to ActionResult to allow for error results
public ActionResult Label(Guid docid) {
    var timestamp = DateTime.Now;
    var shipment = objectFactory.Create<Document>();
    if (docid!= Guid.Empty) {
        var documents = reader.GetDocuments(docid);
        if (documents.Length > 0)
            document = documents[0];

            MemoryStream memoryStream = new MemoryStream();
            var printer = MyPDFGenerator.New();
            printer.PrintToStream(document, memoryStream);

            Response.AppendHeader("Content-Disposition", "inline; filename=" + timestamp.ToString("yyyyMMddHHmmss") + ".pdf");
            return File(memoryStream.ToArray(), "application/pdf");
        } else {
            return this.RedirectToAction(c => c.Details(id));
    return this.RedirectToAction(c => c.Index(null, null));

Hope this helps

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