I have to admit, I'm not a programmer nor a web developer. I don't know much about framework schemes and databases. But I know just enough Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) form and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to make my print design function for the Web.

Facebook offers their own language too: Facebook Markup Language (FBML). It is a great branding tool for any business. I still don't understand the language completely, but I was pretty much able to make it work by adding <fb:fbml> and </fb:fbml> tags to my HTML code. There are a few resources online that explain FBML in detail. As a print designer, I prefer to leave the details to trained programmers.

5 Tips:

Luckily for us print designers, imitating print design on the web is becoming increasingly popular. Here are a few tips I can offer to other transitioning print-to-web designers like myself.
  • Add the Static FBML application to your Facebook Fan Page. (Static FBML is not available for personal pages). I believe Facebook recommends the app for most fan page categories. If it is not in your apps or recommended apps, type "Static FBML" into your Facebook search bar to add the application to your page. Once you can access the app, you will see the field to enter the a tab title and a field to enter your FBML code.
  • Use tables. Purely by observation, I noticed that FBML ignores my spacer.gif images that Photoshop renders for in-between slices. So instead of using <td> cells throughout the code, I bypassed the limited HTML help that Photoshop could offer and used CSS for a background image and simple tables to position my Design Gallery images. The maximum canvas width is 760 px.
  • Photoshop your background. The key to producing a branded look is to carefully design your background image. I didn't really take a lot of time to plan out this example. In fact, I was so eager to try FBML that I quickly took a stock photo and superimposed my face just to create an effective image for the purpose of my tab "All about d*." And it's not even me. Ah, the beauty of photo manipulation.

  • Minimize code. FBML does not read relative links, so store your images on a low-character server name. You might also have noticed that I didn't space out the gallery images. This is because I am under the impression that pages created using FBML have a maximum character limit. Again, I'm not completely sure of a limit, but it is good practice anyway to keep your codes as short as possible without sacrificing load time. Of course, if spacing is a priority in your design, go ahead and put spaces.
  • Lastly, consider your audience. Chances are, you are using a Facebook Page as a feed to your real website, so you want to use your custom tab as an opt-in initiative to your primary site rather than some confusing visual for your brand. You can also change your wall settings to default to your new FBML custom tab as a landing page. There's nothing like making a first impression with a snazzy opening.
Take it or leave it, but these are my novice tips on FBML. I will explore iFrames, Javacript, and Flash soon, so I will have more to shed on the topic later. Also check out some useful tools on www.vegasproeditors.com.

Me ke aloha,



04/23/2010 10:12am

Hey great start and best wishes as you push deeper into FBML. One note, although it isn't policy now, Facebook will be redefining the minimum width to 520px. So, if you're about to design something -- you might consider making it 520px now rather than having to remake it later. Cheers.

04/26/2010 6:12am

Thanks. Do you know why they are reducing it?

04/29/2010 1:39pm

Hi there.

I have a question.

I too only today found out about this FBML thing... and find it intersting.

How did you get from photoshop... to background in Facebook?
Is it possible to have some kind of way that users can fill in a few questions, especially with radio buttons.

Email me back, thanks.

05/05/2010 2:51am


At first I used the slice tool in Photoshop and saved it for web (Alt-Shift-Ctrl-S on Windows or Option-Shift-Command-S on Mac). But I found that FBML ignored the spacer images that Photoshop generated. So instead of slicing the design, I saved the background as one image, imported as a background into Dreamweaver, added a table for controlled formatting, then inserted my gallery images.

Then, I added <fb:fbml> and </fb:fbml> before and after the HTML code, and copy-pasted it into the FBML field on the FBML app.

Dreamweaver generates radio buttons and form fields, as well, but I have not tried it. Theoretically, it should work like any HTML website design. Let me know if this helps.

05/26/2010 7:10am

Donya, you saved my life! Thank you so much for this post. I've been trying to do an FBML tab using slices and I was literally about to jump out a window - it would work in Firefox, but not in IE or it would work in an old version of IE but not in the new version! Then I found your post and your 5 simple tips solved my issues. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

06/09/2010 5:11am

I see that even FBML page templates are appearing :) but's there are a few atm.. for instance here - http://www.flashmint.com/show-type-facebook.html

06/30/2010 8:44pm


I'm having a problem getting photoshop slices to show up as well.. tried out your method with pulling the background into dreamweaver but I'm lost on how to recreate it with tables and post it up. Do you think you could post the final code or a snippet from it? Thanks so much..

07/20/2010 11:57am

Hey!! I need heeelp...
I'm trying to insert a background in my facebook fan using fbml but it just simply doesn't work!!
First, i did all my page on dreamweaver (Beforehand, I did my background on photoshop). Then, i copied/pasted codes on my fbml box and removed all useless ones on fbml ( <html>, <body>, etc.) But still, my background doesn't appaer on my page, only my dreamweaver text appear on it!
PS: I've also CSS code in it, and the picture (background) is host by photobucket... I tried pretty much everything and nothing works!!
If someone has an idea that will be helpfull...

07/31/2010 11:04am

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Image()).src =


42be49b84f&position=3&' + Math.random();return true;"><img

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<td colspan="3" rowspan="2"><a

href="http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3593137&id=308728713304" onclick="(new

Image()).src =


42be49b84f&position=3&' + Math.random();return true;"><img

src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_09.jpg" border="0" /></a></td>
<td colspan="3" rowspan="3"><img

src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_10.jpg" /></td>
<td colspan="3" rowspan="2"><img

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src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_13.jpg" /></td>
<td colspan="3"><img src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_14.jpg"

<td rowspan="8"><img src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_15.jpg"

<td colspan="5"><a

href="http://www.facebook.com/dsinelab?!/photo.php?pid=3593067&id=308728713304" onclick="(new

Image()).src =


42be49b84f&position=3&' + Math.random();return true;"><img

src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_16.jpg" border="0" /></a></td>
<td rowspan="2"><img src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_17.jpg"

<td colspan="6"><a

href="http://www.facebook.com/dsinelab?!/photo.php?pid=3597663&id=308728713304" onclick="(new

Image()).src =


42be49b84f&position=3&' + Math.random();return true;"><img

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<td rowspan="2"><img src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/index_19.jpg"

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<td colspan="2" rowspan="2"><img


09/09/2010 2:51am

isnt something missing from the code?
there seems to be no end:
img src="http://inmanproductions.com/dsinelabfb/images/ind............?

11/08/2010 9:23am

Awesome article Donya! I too am a newbie to fbml, but am learning for clients so I am glad to get your expertise on this. I'll holler when I need more insight from you for sure!!


Great article.


Serious fan of the website, lots of your articles have truly helped me out. Awaiting up-dates!

08/25/2011 6:05pm

I just stopped in to tell you I really appreciated the read and shall be dropping by from time to time now.

09/07/2011 3:00am


i need a help for you because i have an error which became to me when i
save change my fbml setting the error was !!!!

This message contains blocked content that has previously been flagged as abusive or spammy

please help me ! !

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    The Designer
    I am Donya -- my friends call me "d." I'm 31 years old, from the suburbs of Southern California. I used to want an office on the 42nd floor somewhere in Midtown East. After graduating and working at three multi-national corporations, I got laid off in 2008 like everyone else did. I then started d*Sine Lab as my freelance alter ego. It's been an eye-opening four years for me, including having  two kids and moving from California to North Carolina...far, far away from NYC.


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