CMS Architecture

Introduction

A lot can be achieved in SilverStripe by adding properties and form fields to your own page types (via SiteTree::getCMSFields()), as well as creating your own data management interfaces through ModelAdmin. But sometimes you'll want to go deeper and tailor the underlying interface to your needs as well. For example, to build a personalized CMS dashboard, or content "slots" where authors can drag their content into. At its core, SilverStripe is a web application built on open standards and common libraries, so lots of the techniques should feel familiar to you. This is just a quick run down to get you started with some special conventions.

For a more practical-oriented approach to CMS customizations, refer to the Howto: Extend the CMS Interface.

Installation

In order to contribute to the core frontend code, you need NodeJS. This will install the package manager necessary to download frontend requirements. Once NodeJS is ready to go, you can download those requirements:

(cd framework && npm install)

Note: For each core module (e.g. framework and cms), a separate npm install needs to be run.

Building

All "source" files for the frontend logic are located in vendor/silverstripe/framework/client/src. The base CMS interface has its own folder with vendor/silverstripe/framework/admin/client/src. If you have the cms module installed, there's additional files in vendor/silverstripe/cms/client/src.

All build commands are run through npm. You can check the module's package.json for available commands. Under the hood, files are built through Webpack. You'll need to run at least the build and css commands. Check our build tooling docs for more details.

cd vendor/silverstripe/admin && yarn build

Coding Conventions

Please follow our CSS and JavaScript coding conventions.

Pattern library

A pattern library is a collection of user interface design elements, this helps developers and designers collaborate and to provide a quick preview of elements as they were intended without the need to build an entire interface to see it. Components built in React and used by the CMS are actively being added to the pattern library. The pattern library can be used to preview React components without including them in the SilverStripe CMS.

Viewing the latest pattern library

The easiest way to access the pattern library is to view it online. The pattern library for the latest SilverStripe 4 development branch is automatically built and deployed. Note that this may include new components that are not yet available in a stable release.

Browse the SilverStripe pattern library online.

Running the pattern library

If you're developing a new React component, running the pattern library locally is a good way to interact with it.

The pattern library is built from the silverstripe/admin module, but it also requires silverstripe/asset-admin, silversrtipe/cms and silverstripe/campaign-admin.

To run the pattern library locally, you'll need a SilverStripe project based on silverstripe/recipe-cms and yarn installed locally. The pattern library requires the JS source files so you'll need to use the --prefer-source flag when installing your dependencies with Composer.

composer install --prefer-source
(cd vendor/silverstripe/asset-admin && yarn install)
(cd vendor/silverstripe/campaign-admin && yarn install)
(cd vendor/silverstripe/cms && yarn install)
cd vendor/silverstripe/admin && yarn install && yarn pattern-lib

The pattern library will be available at http://localhost:6006. The JS source files will be watched, so every time you make a change to a JavaScript file, the pattern library will automatically update itself.

If you want to build a static version of the pattern library, you can replace yarn pattern-lib with yarn build-storybook. This will output the pattern library files to a storybook-static folder.

The SilverStripe pattern library is built using the StoryBook JS library. You can read the StoryBook documentation to learn about more advanced features and customisation options.

The Admin URL

The CMS interface can be accessed by default through the admin/ URL. You can change this by setting the $url_base config for the AdminRootController, creating your own Director routing rule and clearing the old rule as per the example below:

---
Name: myadmin
After:
  - '#adminroutes'
---
SilverStripe\Control\Director:
  rules:
    'admin': ''
    'newAdmin': 'SilverStripe\Admin\AdminRootController'
    
SilverStripe\Admin\AdminRootController:
  url_base: 'newAdmin'    
---

When extending the CMS or creating modules, you can take advantage of various functions that will return the configured admin URL (by default 'admin/' is returned):

In PHP you should use:

SilverStripe\Admin\AdminRootController::admin_url()

When writing templates use:

$AdminURL

And in JavaScript, this is avaible through the ss namespace

ss.config.adminUrl

Multiple Admin URL and overrides

You can also create your own classes that extend the AdminRootController to create multiple or custom admin areas, with a Director.rules for each one.

Templates and Controllers

The CMS backend is handled through the LeftAndMain controller class, which contains base functionality like displaying and saving a record. This is extended through various subclasses, e.g. to add a group hierarchy (SecurityAdmin), a search interface (ModelAdmin) or an "Add Page" form (CMSPageAddController).

The controller structure is too complex to document here, a good starting point for following the execution path in code are LeftAndMain::getRecord() and LeftAndMain::getEditForm(). If you have the cms module installed, have a look at CMSMain::getEditForm() for a good example on how to extend the base functionality (e.g. by adding page versioning hints to the form).

CMS templates are inherited based on their controllers, similar to subclasses of the common Page object (a new PHP class MyPage will look for a MyPage.ss template). We can use this to create a different base template with LeftAndMain.ss (which corresponds to the LeftAndMain PHP controller class). In case you want to retain the main CMS structure (which is recommended), just create your own "Content" template (e.g. MyCMSController_Content.ss), which is in charge of rendering the main content area apart from the CMS menu.

Depending on the complexity of your layout, you'll also need to overload the "EditForm" template (e.g. MyCMSController_EditForm.ss), e.g. to implement a tabbed form which only scrolls the main tab areas, while keeping the buttons at the bottom of the frame. This requires manual assignment of the template to your form instance, see CMSMain::getEditForm() for details.

Often its useful to have a "tools" panel in between the menu and your content, usually occupied by a search form or navigational helper. In this case, you can either overload the full base template as described above. To avoid duplicating all this template code, you can also use the special LeftAndMain::Tools() and LeftAndMain::EditFormTools() methods available in LeftAndMain. These placeholders are populated by auto-detected templates, with the naming convention of "_Tools.ss" and "_EditFormTools.ss". So to add or "subclass" a tools panel, simply create this file and it's automatically picked up.

Layout and Panels

The various panels and UI components within them are loosely coupled to the layout engine through the data-layout-type attribute. The layout is triggered on the top element and cascades into children, with a redraw method defined on each panel and UI component that needs to update itself as a result of layouting.

Refer to Layout reference for further information.

Forms

SilverStripe constructs forms and its fields within PHP, mainly through the getCMSFields() method. This in turn means that the CMS loads these forms as HTML via Ajax calls, e.g. after saving a record (which requires a form refresh), or switching the section in the CMS.

Depending on where in the DOM hierarchy you want to use a form, custom templates and additional CSS classes might be required for correct operation. For example, the "EditForm" has specific view and logic JavaScript behaviour which can be enabled via adding the "cms-edit-form" class. In order to set the correct layout classes, we also need a custom template. To obey the inheritance chain, we use $this->getTemplatesWithSuffix('_EditForm') for selecting the most specific template (so MyAdmin_EditForm.ss, if it exists).

The form should use a LeftAndMainFormRequestHandler, since it allows the use of a PjaxResponseNegotiator to handle its display.

Basic example form in a CMS controller subclass:

use SilverStripe\Forms\TabSet;
use SilverStripe\Forms\FieldList;
use SilverStripe\Forms\Tab;
use SilverStripe\Forms\TextField;
use SilverStripe\Forms\FormAction;
use SilverStripe\Admin\LeftAndMain;
use SilverStripe\Admin\LeftAndMainFormRequestHandler;

class MyAdmin extends LeftAndMain 
{
    public function getEditForm() {
        return Form::create(
            $this,
            'EditForm',
            new FieldList(
                TabSet::create(
                    'Root',
                    Tab::create('Main',
                        TextField::create('MyText')
                    )
                )->setTemplate('CMSTabset')
            ),
            new FieldList(
                FormAction::create('doSubmit')
            )
        )
            // Use a custom request handler
            ->setRequestHandler(
                LeftAndMainFormRequestHandler::create($form)
            )
            // JS and CSS use this identifier
            ->setHTMLID('Form_EditForm')
            // Render correct responses on validation errors
            ->setResponseNegotiator($this->getResponseNegotiator());
            // Required for correct CMS layout
            ->addExtraClass('cms-edit-form')
            ->setTemplate($this->getTemplatesWithSuffix('_EditForm'));
    }
}

Note: Usually you don't need to worry about these settings, and will simply call parent::getEditForm() to modify an existing, correctly configured form.

JavaScript through jQuery.entwine

Deprecated: The following documentation regarding Entwine applies to legacy code only. If you're developing new functionality in React powered sections please refer to ReactJS in SilverStripe.

jQuery.entwine is a thirdparty library which allows us to attach behaviour to DOM elements in a flexible and structured mannger. It replaces the behaviour.js library used in previous versions of the CMS interface. See JavaScript Development for more information on how to use it. In the CMS interface, all entwine rules should be placed in the "ss" entwine namespace. If you want to call methods defined within these rules outside of entwine logic, you have to use this namespace, e.g. $('.cms-menu').entwine('ss').collapse().

Note that only functionality that is custom to the CMS application needs to be built in jQuery.entwine, we're trying to reuse library code wherever possible. The most prominent example of this is the usage of jQuery UI for dialogs and buttons.

The CMS includes the jQuery.entwine inspector. Press Ctrl+` ("backtick") to bring down the inspector. You can then click on any element in the CMS to see which entwine methods are bound to any particular element.

JavaScript and CSS dependencies via Requirements and Ajax

The JavaScript logic powering the CMS is divided into many files, which typically are included via the Requirements class, by adding them to LeftAndMain::init() and its subclassed methods. This class also takes care of minification and combination of the files, which is crucial for the CMS performance (see Requirements::combine_files()).

Due to the procedural and selector-driven style of UI programming in jQuery.entwine, it can be difficult to find the piece of code responsible for a certain behaviour. Therefore it is important to adhere to file naming conventions. E.g. a feature only applicable to ModelAdmin should be placed in vendor/silverstripe/framework/admin/javascript/src/ModelAdmin.js, while something modifying all forms (including ModelAdmin forms) would be better suited in vendor/silverstripe/framework/admin/javascript/src/LeftAndMain.EditForm.js. Selectors used in these files should mirrow the "scope" set by its filename, so don't place a rule applying to all form buttons inside ModelAdmin.js.

The CMS relies heavily on Ajax-loading of interfaces, so each interface and the JavaScript driving it have to assume its underlying DOM structure is appended via an Ajax callback rather than being available when the browser window first loads. jQuery.entwine is effectively an advanced version of jQuery.live and jQuery.delegate, so takes care of dynamic event binding.

Most interfaces will require their own JavaScript and CSS files, so the Ajax loading has to ensure they're loaded unless already present. A custom-built library called jQuery.ondemand (located in vendor/silverstripe/framework/thirdparty) takes care of this transparently - so as a developer just declare your dependencies through the Requirements API.

Client-side routing

SilverStripe uses the HTML5 browser history to modify the URL without a complete window refresh. We us the below systems in combination to achieve this:

  • Page.js routing library is used for most cms sections, which provides additional SilverStripe specific functionality via the vendor/silverstripe/admin/client/src/lib/Router.js wrapper. The router is available on window.ss.router and provides the same API as described in the Page.js docs.
  • React router is used for react-powered CMS sections. This provides a native react-controlled bootstrapping and route handling system that works most effectively with react components. Unlike page.js routes, these may be lazy-loaded or registered during the lifetime of the application on the window.ss.routeRegister wrapper. The history object is passed to react components.

Registering routes

page.js (non-react) CMS sections

CMS sections that rely on entwine, page.js, and normal ajax powered content loading mechanisms (such as modeladmin) will typically have a single wildcard route that initiates the pajax loading mechanism.

The main place that routes are registered are via the LeftAndMain::getClientConfig() overridden method, which by default registers a single 'url' route. This will generate a wildcard route handler for each CMS section in the form /admin/<section>(/*)?, which will capture any requests for this section.

Additional routes can be registered like so window.ss.router('admin/pages', callback), however these must be registered prior to window.onload, as they would otherwise be added with lower priority than the wildcard routes, as page.js prioritises routes in order of registration, not by specificity. Once registered, routes can we called with windw.ss.router.show('admin/pages').

Route callbacks are invoked with two arguments, context and next. The context object can be used to pass state between route handlers and inspect the current history state. The next function invokes the next matching route. If next is called when there is no 'next' route, a page refresh will occur.

React router CMS sections

Similarly to page.js powered routing, the main point of registration for react routing sections is the LeftAndMain::getClientConfig() overridden method, which controls the main routing mechanism for this section. However, there are two major differences:

Firstly, reactRouter must be passed as a boolean flag to indicate that this section is controlled by the react section, and thus should suppress registration of a page.js route for this section.

public function getClientConfig() 
{
    return array_merge(parent::getClientConfig(), [
        'reactRouter' => true
    ]);
}

Secondly, you should ensure that your react CMS section triggers route registration on the client side with the reactRouteRegister component. This will need to be done on the DOMContentLoaded event to ensure routes are registered before window.load is invoked.

import { withRouter } from 'react-router';
import ConfigHelpers from 'lib/Config';
import reactRouteRegister from 'lib/ReactRouteRegister';
import MyAdmin from './MyAdmin';

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', () => {
    const sectionConfig = ConfigHelpers.getSection('MyAdmin');

    reactRouteRegister.add({
        path: sectionConfig.url,
        component: withRouter(MyAdminComponent),
        childRoutes: [
            { path: 'form/:id/:view', component: MyAdminComponent },
        ],
    });
});

Child routes can be registered post-boot by using ReactRouteRegister in the same way.

// Register a nested url under `sectionConfig.url`
const sectionConfig = ConfigHelpers.getSection('MyAdmin');
reactRouteRegister.add({
    path: 'nested',
    component: NestedComponent,
}, [ sectionConfig.url ]);

PJAX: Partial template replacement through Ajax

Many user interactions can change more than one area in the CMS. For example, editing a page title in the CMS form changes it in the page tree as well as the breadcrumbs. In order to avoid unnecessary processing, we often want to update these sections independently from their neighbouring content.

In order for this to work, the CMS templates declare certain sections as "PJAX fragments" through a data-pjax-fragment attribute. These names correlate to specific rendering logic in the PHP controllers, through the PjaxResponseNegotiator class.

Through a custom X-Pjax HTTP header, the client can declare which view they're expecting, through identifiers like CurrentForm or Content (see LeftAndMain::getResponseNegotiator()). These identifiers are passed to loadPanel() via the pjax data option. The HTTP response is a JSON object literal, with template replacements keyed by their Pjax fragment. Through PHP callbacks, we ensure that only the required template parts are actually executed and rendered. When the same URL is loaded without Ajax (and hence without X-Pjax headers), it should behave like a normal full page template, but using the same controller logic.

Example: Create a bare-bones CMS subclass which shows breadcrumbs (a built-in method), as well as info on the current record. A single link updates both sections independently in a single Ajax request.

use SilverStripe\Admin\LeftAndMain;

// app/code/MyAdmin.php
class MyAdmin extends LeftAndMain 
{
    private static $url_segment = 'myadmin';
    public function getResponseNegotiator() 
    {
        $negotiator = parent::getResponseNegotiator();
        $controller = $this;
        // Register a new callback
        $negotiator->setCallback('MyRecordInfo', function() use(&$controller) {
            return $controller->MyRecordInfo();
        });
        return $negotiator;
    }
    public function MyRecordInfo() 
    {
        return $this->renderWith('MyRecordInfo');
    }
}
// MyAdmin.ss
<% include SilverStripe\\Admin\\CMSBreadcrumbs %>
<div>Static content (not affected by update)</div>
<% include MyRecordInfo %>
<a href="{$AdminURL}myadmin" class="cms-panel-link" data-pjax-target="MyRecordInfo,Breadcrumbs">
    Update record info
</a>
// MyRecordInfo.ss
<div data-pjax-fragment="MyRecordInfo">
    Current Record: $currentPage.Title
</div>

A click on the link will cause the following (abbreviated) ajax HTTP request:

GET /admin/myadmin HTTP/1.1
X-Pjax:MyRecordInfo,Breadcrumbs
X-Requested-With:XMLHttpRequest

... and result in the following response:

{"MyRecordInfo": "<div...", "CMSBreadcrumbs": "<div..."}

Keep in mind that the returned view isn't always decided upon when the Ajax request is fired, so the server might decide to change it based on its own logic, sending back different X-Pjax headers and content.

On the client, you can set your preference through the data-pjax-target attributes on links or through the X-Pjax header. For firing off an Ajax request that is tracked in the browser history, use the pjax attribute on the state data.

$('.cms-container').loadPanel(ss.config.adminUrl+'pages', null, {pjax: 'Content'});

Loading lightweight PJAX fragments

Normal navigation between URLs in the admin section of the Framework occurs through loadPanel and submitForm. These calls make sure the HTML5 history is updated correctly and back and forward buttons work. They also take care of some automation, for example restoring currently selected tabs.

However there are situations when you would like to only update a small area in the CMS, and when this operation should not trigger a browser's history pushState. A good example here is reloading a dropdown that relies on backend session information that could have been updated as part of action elsewhere, updates to sidebar status, or other areas unrelated to the main flow.

In this case you can use the loadFragment call supplied by LeftAndMain.js. You can trigger as many of these in parallel as you want. This will not disturb the main navigation.

$('.cms-container').loadFragment(ss.config.adminUrl+'foobar/', 'Fragment1');
$('.cms-container').loadFragment(ss.config.adminUrl+'foobar/', 'Fragment2');
$('.cms-container').loadFragment(ss.config.adminUrl+'foobar/', 'Fragment3');

The ongoing requests are tracked by the PJAX fragment name (Fragment1, 2, and 3 above) - resubmission will result in the prior request for this fragment to be aborted. Other parallel requests will continue undisturbed.

You can also load multiple fragments in one request, as long as they are to the same controller (i.e. URL):

$('.cms-container').loadFragment(ss.config.adminUrl+'foobar/', 'Fragment2,Fragment3');

This counts as a separate request type from the perspective of the request tracking, so will not abort the singular Fragment2 nor Fragment3.

Upon the receipt of the response, the fragment will be injected into DOM where a matching data-pjax-fragment attribute has been found on an element (this element will get completely replaced). Afterwards a afterloadfragment event will be triggered. In case of a request error a loadfragmenterror will be raised and DOM will not be touched.

You can hook up a response handler that obtains all the details of the XHR request via Entwine handler:

'from .cms-container': {
    onafterloadfragment: function(e, data) {
        // Say 'success'!
        alert(data.status);
    }
}

Alternatively you can use the jQuery deferred API:

$('.cms-container')
    .loadFragment(ss.config.adminUrl+'foobar/', 'Fragment1')
    .success(function(data, status, xhr) {
        // Say 'success'!
        alert(status);
    });

Ajax Redirects

Sometimes, a server response represents a new URL state, e.g. when submitting an "add record" form, the resulting view will be the edit form of the new record. On non-ajax submissions, that's easily handled through a HTTP redirection. On ajax submissions, browsers handle these redirects transparently, so the CMS JavaScript doesn't know about them (or the new URL). To work around this, we're using a custom X-ControllerURL HTTP response header which can declare a new URL. If this header is set, the CMS JavaScript will push the URL to its history stack, causing the logic to fetch it in a subsequent ajax request. Note: To avoid double processing, the first response body is usually empty.

State through HTTP response metadata

By loading mostly HTML responses, we don't have an easy way to communicate information which can't be directly contained in the produced HTML. For example, the currently used controller class might've changed due to a "redirect", which affects the currently active menu entry. We're using HTTP response headers to contain this data without affecting the response body.

use SilverStripe\Admin\LeftAndMain;

class MyController extends LeftAndMain 
{
    class myaction() 
    {
        // ...
        $this->getResponse()->addHeader('X-Controller', 'MyOtherController');
        return $html;
    }
}

Built-in headers are:

  • X-Title: Set window title (requires URL encoding)
  • X-Controller: PHP class name matching a menu entry, which is marked active
  • X-ControllerURL: Alternative URL to record in the HTML5 browser history
  • X-Status: Extended status information, used for an information popover.
  • X-Reload: Force a full page reload based on X-ControllerURL

Some links should do more than load a new page in the browser window. To avoid repetition, we've written some helpers for various use cases:

  • Load into a PJAX panel: <a href="..." class="cms-panel-link" data-pjax-target="Content">
  • Load URL as an iframe into a popup/dialog: <a href="..." class="ss-ui-dialog-link">
  • GridField click to redirect to external link: <a href="..." class="cms-panel-link action external-link">

Buttons

SilverStripe automatically applies a jQuery UI button style to all elements with the class .ss-ui-button. We've extended the jQuery UI widget a bit to support defining icons via HTML5 data attributes (see ssui.core.js). These icon identifiers relate to icon files in vendor/silverstripe/framework/admin/images/sprites/src/btn-icons, and are sprited into a single file through SCSS and sprity (sprites are compiled with yarn run build). There are classes set up to show the correct sprite via background images (see vendor/silverstripe/framework/admin/scss/_sprites.scss).

Input: <a href="..." class="ss-ui-button" data-icon="add" />Button text</a>

Output: <a href="..." data-icon="add" class="ss-ui-button ss-ui-action-constructive ui-button ui-widget ui-state-default ui-corner-all ui-button-text-icon-primary" role="button"><span class="ui-button-icon-primary ui-icon btn-icon-add"></span><span class="ui-button-text">Button text</span></a>

Note that you can create buttons from pretty much any element, although when using an input of type button, submit or reset, support is limited to plain text labels with no icons.

The navigation menu in the CMS is created through the CMSMenu API, which auto-detects all subclasses of LeftAndMain. This means that your custom ModelAdmin subclasses will already appear in there without any explicit definition. To modify existing menu entries or create new ones, see CMSMenu::add_menu_item() and CMSMenu::remove_menu_item().

New content panels are typically loaded via Ajax, which might change the current menu context. For example, a link to edit a file might be clicked within a page edit form, which should change the currently active menu entry from "Page" to "Files & Images". To communicate this state change, a controller response has the option to pass along a special HTTP response header, which is picked up by the menu:

public function mycontrollermethod() 
{
    // .. logic here
    $this->getResponse()->addHeader('X-Controller', 'AssetAdmin');
    return 'my response';
}

This is usually handled by the existing LeftAndMain logic, so you don't need to worry about it. The same concept applies for 'X-Title' (change the window title) and 'X-ControllerURL' (change the URL recorded in browser history). Note: You can see any additional HTTP headers through the web developer tools in your browser of choice.

Tree

The CMS tree for viewing hierarchical structures (mostly pages) is powered by the jstree library. It is configured through client/src/legacy/LeftAndMain.Tree.js in the silverstripe/admin module, as well as some HTML5 metadata generated on its container (see the data-hints attribute). For more information, see the Howto: Customise the CMS tree.

Note that a similar tree logic is also used for the form fields to select one or more entries from those hierarchies (TreeDropdownField and TreeMultiselectField).

Tabs

We're using jQuery UI tabs, but in a customised fashion. HTML with tabs can be created either directly through HTML templates in the CMS, or indirectly through a TabSet form field. Since tabsets are useable outside of the CMS as well, the baseline application of tabs happens via a small wrapper around jQuery.tabs() stored in TabSet.js.

In the CMS however, tabs need to do more: They memorize their active tab in the user's browser, and lazy load content via ajax once they're activated.

They also need to work across different "layout containers" (see above), meaning a tab navigation might be in a layout header, while the tab content is occupied by the main content area. jQuery assumes a common parent in the DOM for both the tab navigation and its target DOM elements. In order to achieve this level of flexibility, most tabsets in the CMS use a custom template which leaves rendering the tab navigation to a separate template: CMSMain.ss. See the "Forms" section above for an example form.

Here's how you would apply this template to your own tabsets used in the CMS. Note that you usually only need to apply it to the outermost tabset, since all others should render with their tab navigation inline.

Form template with custom tab navigation (trimmed down):

<form $FormAttributes data-layout-type="border">

    <div class="cms-content-header north">
        <% if Fields.hasTabset %>
            <% with Fields.fieldByName('Root') %>
            <div class="cms-content-header-tabs">
                <ul>
                <% loop Tabs %>
                    <li><a href="#$id">$Title</a></li>
                <% end_loop %>
                </ul>
            </div>
            <% end_with %>
        <% end_if %>
    </div>

    <div class="cms-content-fields center">
        <fieldset>
            <% loop Fields %>$FieldHolder<% end_loop %>
        </fieldset>
    </div>

</form>

Tabset template without tab navigation (e.g. CMSTabset.ss)

<div $AttributesHTML>
    <% loop Tabs %>
        <% if Tabs %>
            $FieldHolder
        <% else %>
            <div $AttributesHTML>
                <% loop Fields %>
                    $FieldHolder
                <% end_loop %>
            </div>
        <% end_if %>
    <% end_loop %>
</div>

Lazy loading works based on the href attribute of the tab navigation. The base behaviour is applied through adding a class .cms-tabset to a container. Assuming that each tab has its own URL which is tracked in the HTML5 history, the current tab display also has to work when loaded directly without Ajax. This is achieved by template conditionals (see "MyActiveCondition"). The .cms-panel-link class will automatically trigger the ajax loading, and load the HTML content into the main view. Example:

<div id="my-tab-id" class="cms-tabset" data-ignore-tab-state="true">
    <ul>
        <li class="<% if MyActiveCondition %> ui-tabs-active<% end_if %>">
            <a href="{$AdminURL}mytabs/tab1" class="cms-panel-link">
                Tab1
            </a>
        </li>
        <li class="<% if MyActiveCondition %> ui-tabs-active<% end_if %>">
            <a href="{$AdminURL}mytabs/tab2" class="cms-panel-link">
                Tab2
            </a>
        </li>
    </ul>
</div>

The URL endpoints {$AdminURL}mytabs/tab1 and {$AdminURL}mytabs/tab2 should return HTML fragments suitable for inserting into the content area, through the PjaxResponseNegotiator class (see above).