Welcome - This is a tutorial sample - Many of FreeForm's capabilities are demonstrated and discussed in this sample.  This sample does not, however, discuss many additional features available in the Advanced Builder.

First click on any Preview button in the Builder page.  That will open the Preview window in which all the contents of the Builder are displayed after having been translated to HTML by FreeForm.

In the Preview window find the sentences above and click on them.  When you click on any part of the Description in the Preview window you'll close the Preview window and be taken to the Input Area from which the content you clicked on originated.  Test that out now.

This tutorial is a working sample that you can use to build your own layout as you go along.  The instructional Input Areas, such as this one are configured to have a white background with black text.  You can remove them as you go along and what will remain is an actual sample description you can modify to meet your needs.

Each Input Area of the Builder has a 'Remove' link right above the Preview button.  Click on the Remove link for this Input Area and it will be removed from the Builder.  Go ahead and Remove INSTRUCTION 1 and INSTRUCTION 2.

OK, that takes care of how to Preview the results of your work in the Builder.  Now we'll back up a little and look at the Builder's Global Features Input Area.  That contains settings that effect the entire display of the presentation.  It's mostly self explanitory but, as in all the Input Areas, there is a Help button and blue '?' links scattered about.  When clicked those pop up windows that explain what each of the settings accomplish.

Some settings are 'hidden' in tools (such as the Frame Builder Tool) that also open in their own new windows.

Take a few minutes to experiment with all the settings in Global Features.  Change settings then click on a Preview button to see their effect in Preview.  

Notes: When a background wallpaper is being used, any background color selected is invisible.  Also, when the Frame Builder Tool is used, the background wallpaper is covered up too except for one little strip all the way at the bottom of the description.  It's usually best just to delete out any wallpaper chosen in Global Features when you use the Frame Builder.

If you haven't already, click on the Frame Builder Tool in Global Features.  In the Tool Window click on the Sample button to see sample frames.  There's more instructions inside the Tool, but starting from the Sample is the easiest way to get a feel for how the tool works.  When done experimenting, click on Save and Close to close the Tool window and click on a Preview button from here in the Builder to see the effect of the background layers on the overall presentation.

Incidentally, FreeForm can be used for more than descriptions.  As a result, instructions will often refer to what is created with FreeForm as 'presentations' instead of as just 'descriptions'.
UseTitles only as a tool for what you will use on eBay


This sample uses a Title Input Area.  Using a Title Input Area is not required.  In fact, unless you want it for storage of the title you will be using when listing on eBay, don't use it all.  Text Input Areas provide much more control and flexibility for creating a Heading within your presentations.  When creating a presentation for eBay consider using a Title Input Area but marking it as 'Do not show in description'.  Find that box in the Title Input Area above and check it now.

FreeForm does not transfer a title to eBay during the listing process!  You'll need to enter it yourself on eBay.
Instead use Text Input Areas for Headings

Text Input Areas are the workhorse in FreeForm.  If you use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser you will see a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) button.  It is possible, though not generally advised, to create an entire description inside the WYSIWYG.

Using the Text Input Area immediately above experiment with all the options.  Change the various settings and go back and forth from Preview to see their effect.  There is no amount of words that can replace experimentation as the best way to learn how to use FreeForm.

Centered text gives an attractive appearance but
for long sentences or paragraphs, it ends up
being hard to read.  For best results, when using
centered text keep the lines very short plus,
if you use Internet Explorer, choose Centered
as the alignment in the Text Input Area, then
inside the WYSIWYG, left align all the text.
Example in the text area below.


This input area makes use of a combination of
settings.  In the Text Input Area it is assigned
a centered alignment. Then, inside the WYSIWYG
these lines are assigned a left alignment while
the heading above remains centered.  Looks funny
inside the WYSIWYG but produces a balanced result
when viewed in Preview.

Briefly and enthusiastically punch up the major features of the item you are currently selling.  This serves to set the mood for the presentation and gives the visitor something to read while awaiting photos to appear (if they have a slow internet connection).

Using FreeForm to create your presentations, instead of fixed templates, enables you to readily adapt them to a variety of circumstances.  You've already learned how to remove input areas and they are just as easily inserted.  Between each Input Area there are buttons to insert any type of Input Area at that location in the Builder.

Showing a picture then text, then another picture, then text, etc. is easily accomplished.

Give particular attention to the controls within Picture Input Areas and be sure to click on the Help button and each of the '?' links to understand what each of the controls do.

Picture Input Areas can be used for graphics as well as photos.  For example, supposing you have a logo or divider graphics or clip art that you want to show, they are accessed via URLs the same way as are photos.

To prevent pictures from butting up against text or other pictures, check the box that reads ''Check this box to add 10 pixels of blank space around picture''

It is strongly advised that you do NOT use the 'Adjust display width and height' feature for photos.  It is always better to show photos in their 'natural' size.  If you need to display a photo in a smaller size, reduce the size of the original photo, then include it in FreeForm.  Even worse is to enlarge a photo.  Reducing or enlarging in FreeForm always results in a reduction in visual quality!  Remember, your objective is to sell your item - not to produce a perfectly aligned photo presentation.

The hardest learned lesson when designing presentations for the web is that the designer has no control over several important factors that influence what visitors will actually see when visiting a page.  One important consideration is to allow for different screen resolutions.  For example, much less content will fit in the screen when a visitor has their computer monitor set to 800x600 resolution (a common setting) than if they have it set to 1024x768.  Adjusting the width of FreeForm's Preview window is the easiest way to see what happens to your presentations when viewed at lower resolutions.

1. Avoid using photos that are wider than 560 pixels if you use FreeForm's Frame Builder.  The Frame Builder uses up width in the screen that may cause your photos to run off the right side of the screen when viewed at 800x600 resolution or less.  Do not use very wide layers in the Frame Builder.

2. If you must show photos wider than 560 pixels do not use the Frame Builder and check the box in the Picture Input Area labeled 'Check this box for pictures wider than 544 pixels'.

3. Optimize your photos either before or after uploading them to your host so they load faster for visitors who are using dial-up Internet connections.  Visit the site and experiment with the demo to learn about Photo Optimization.
Describe in further detail and point out features in the first photo above.

Sometimes you may want to give emphasis to the particulars in a list format such as shown in the Text Input Area below.  The secret to neat looking ''bulleted'' lists is to keep each line short.  To make the list stand out give the text area a different background color than that selected in Global Features.

A features list is something that helps you present a lot of information about an item in a format that is easy to read and should be easy to create.  It is very difficult, however, to create centered lists in FreeForm without also using the WYSIWYG.  The sample list below is set up using the WYSIWYG.  The trick is to choose Centered as the alignment for the Text Input Area, then go into the WYSIWYG to create the list as is done with the sample below.

Important!  The Use Global Features Backgound must not be checked for this to work.

  • Size 12
  • Heavy duty zipper
  • Removeable shoulder pads   
  • Reinforced seams

Another common desire is to create columned lists.  Again, that's difficult without using the WYSIWYG.  In the sample below I again used Centered as the alignment in the Text Input Area, then used the WYSIWYG editor to create the columns.  The columns must be very narrow to accomplish this or the text will wrap when viewed in smaller windows.

                  Size:     12
              Zipper:      Heavy Duty
Shoulder Pads:      Removeable


It's Centering that causes most of the difficulties with lists.  If you can live with keeping things simple, use the following type of list instead.  Set the alignment for the Text Input Area as Left, Indented, or Indented More depending on how long a sentence is necessary for the features.

You do not need to use a background color or use the WYSIWYG for the simple list below:
* Size 12
* Heavy duty zipper
* Removeable shoulder pads
* Reinforced seams
* This more readily accepts longer sentences without looking too bad when wraps to the next line
* Next feature

As you are beginning to see, actually using FreeForm is pretty simple.  If you've ever tried learning HTML the difference is like night and day!  But, the challenge remains to design what works best for the items you are presenting and arriving at a style that suits you.  As you work at that you do not want to accidentally lose what you have already done.  Practice saving and restoring/retrieving your work!

The Quick Save is a tool to make it easier to save as you go along but does not replace permanently saving your work!  Permanently save your work from the menu on the Preview page!!

Because FreeForm saves the 'ingredients' used to create your presentations rather than just the finished HTML, you may simply Restore a previously saved description to the Builder and use it as the starting point for other presentations.  Change only what needs to be changed, leave everything else alone, and you're done.  Keep that strategy in mind when doing your layouts by keeping separate what won't need to be changed from what will.  You may Insert and Remove Input Areas as needed to accomodate either more or less pictures and textual content.

When naming your saved descriptions consider something including a little note that describes the color scheme or layout so you can build your own library of templates from which to choose.

1. If you do not already have what you wanting to use in the Builder, first restore it to the Builder from your saved descriptions.

2. Go to Preview

3. From the menu in the Preview page click on the 'TWO WINDOW POST' button where you will find the HTML that FreeForm created and further instructions.

Describe in further detail and point out features in the second photo above.  Alternating text and pictures is a good way to tell a story about what you are selling.  With FreeForm you can insert Input Areas in any sequence you desire by clicking on the type you desire in the ''Insert Here'' bars.

Gaining a blank line in the display is done by simply skipping a line in the input area.  You can also add blank lines at the end of a Text Input Area.

To retain a blank line at the beginning of a text area you need to also hit the space bar inside the blank line otherwise the blank line will disappear after the description has been saved.  Blank lines between other lines and at the bottom of a text area do not need spaces in them to be preserved.

Spaces between words           can be displayed just by leaving spaces between them.           They will not line up exactly in the display so DON'T depend on that in your layout design.

Terms and Conditions

TIP:  Terms and Conditions Input Area

These work well to separate and give focus to your terms and conditions of sale.  They are, however, basically an obsolete feature in FreeForm.  It is probably better to create a titled section labeled such as ''Payment and Shipping'' using a Text Input Area followed by the body of text in an additional Text Input Area.  Or include the title in the Input Area as I have below using the WYSIWYG.  The use of Text Input Areas enables greater flexibility in formatting.

Payment and Shipping

Weave together your terms and conditions of sale, payment methods accepted, and the excellent responsiveness and customer service you will, in turn, provide.

Fill in your email address in the Email Link Input Area below and refer to it in here if the bidder has any questions to ask.

Fill in the Auctions Link Input Area below and refer to it here if you offer combined shipping costs.

Fill in the Website Link Input Area below to your eBay About Me page if you have one.  eBay rules prohibit links to selling websites in auctions but you can place such links in eBay About Me pages.  A working strategy is to draw buyers from your auctions to your About Me page and then to your website.

The above template is such as you would find at sites that offer templates to help create attractive presentations.  The difference with FreeForm is that this template is only the beginning of what you can accomplish.  Text colors, backgrounds, layered frames, borders, images, are all under your control to switch around and substitute as desired.  Insert more or less pictures and text, adjust text sizes, adjust fonts, adjust picture sizes, whatever you want.

If this template hurts your eye's, I apologize.  As an artist I make a good programmer!  Over the years I've seen designs created using FreeForm that far exceed what I am capable of producing.  But, based on the frequent requests for templates I'm giving it my best shot.  Please forgive me!  :)

If this template happens to be close to what you envision for your item presentations, eBay About Me page, eBay Store Custom Pages, or even for designing your own web site pages you are welcome to use it as your starting point.  In the Builder Page you will find this template via ''The Library'' link immediately to the right of where you see ''Load Up the Builder With:'', in the Templates folder, in the container named ''Template 25''.

Created using the FreeForm Builder at with Help and Hosting