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Author's profile photo Frederik Hudak

Build your own user experience – Introducing dark theme for SE80

Disclaimer: The author does not advocate the use of the ABAP Workbench. Not even the ABAP Workbench advocates the use of the ABAP Workbench.

But even if you don’t choose to follow my advice, fret not! SE80 offers enough customization options for you to be able to pretend you’re using a modern editor. See for yourself:

If you have a keen eye, you will notice I just dragged a VsCode window over an SE80 window. That is one way to do it, but if you prefer your comfortable workbench and just want the colors, I have a fully integrated solution for you too.

This is what the end result actually looks like in SE80. You could say it’s a day and night difference:

All you need to do is click the tiny  button in the lower left corner of the transaction, which will open up this menu:

First, note that I changed the text font to Consolas.

Then you just change all the colors. If you try to share your theme with someone else, you will notice the lack of an export button. Everyone has to assemble their own theme from the parts which I will provide, IKEA style.

Edit: I found out there is a config file where you can change the values. Replace abap_spec.xml in Users\AppData\Roaming\SAP\SAP GUI\ABAP Editor with this one.

It’s also not possible to enter hex colors directly into the color picker, so after finding the right colors, I had to convert them to their RGB components first.

One more warning: there is no reset to default button either, so better make note of the original colors. I didn’t, which is why you won’t find them listed below. There’s some additional categories you can fiddle with if you’re interested, but these should be enough.

Item Color (R, G, B)
All backgrounds 30, 30, 30
  • Text color
  • Syntactical operator (foreground)
  • Token operator (foreground)
  • Current line (foreground)
  • Text highlights (+bold font)
212, 212, 212
Read-only mode (foreground) 0, 0, 0
Comments (foreground) 0, 128, 0
Numbers (foreground) 181, 206, 168
String (foreground) 206, 145, 120


86 156 214 (Visual Studio blue)

197 134 192 (VSCode pink)

222 132 50 (GitHub-inspired orange)

I hope you enjoy your enhanced development experience!




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      Author's profile photo Jacques Nomssi Nzali
      Jacques Nomssi Nzali

      You can also use the editor without the ABAP:


      Author's profile photo Frederik Hudak
      Frederik Hudak
      Blog Post Author

      Cool! I had a look through the links in there and it looks like there is actually a way to export the themes documented here.

      There should be an abap_spec.xml file on your computer. Aside from colors, it contains some extra things you can fiddle with, like which keywords introduce indentation or a list of keywords. You could delete deprecated keywords from your spec and no longer get autocompletion for them.

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

      Can you publish that appropriate xml file please?


      Author's profile photo Frederik Hudak
      Frederik Hudak
      Blog Post Author

      Hi, I'll update the post tomorrow.

      Author's profile photo Tomas Buryanek
      Tomas Buryanek

      Yeah there is a GitHub for themes. Please add your theme into it 🙂

      Author's profile photo Frederik Hudak
      Frederik Hudak
      Blog Post Author

      PR submitted.

      Author's profile photo Jesús Antonio Santos Giraldo
      Jesús Antonio Santos Giraldo

      Very interesting... There is a lot of useful information here!.


      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

      Without a doubt, this is the best blog I’ve ever read.

      I will immediately change the configuration of the 13+ SE80 environments I'm forced to work in to at least fool my brain for a minute that I'm working in a modern development environment.

      Author's profile photo Mike Pokraka
      Mike Pokraka

      Funny how 'old fashioned' becomes "modern".

      I started doing this some years ago when I arrived at a project with a really antiquated way of doing things. It was partly a bit of fun, I changed my editor to resemble the old-old style green or orange monochrome monitors, just to put me in the right frame of mind for what I had to work with.

      Turned out I really liked it and tweaked it with a few extra color accents and it became my 'standard' setup that I kept around for a good few years of using SE80 at various projects.

      Unfortunately I don't use dark mode anymore. I prefer it in principle, but working on such a variety of applications these days I find the frequent switching between light and dark too irritating.

      Author's profile photo Marcello Urbani
      Marcello Urbani

      I guess it's partially due to the recent fashion of retro stuff, like t-shirts with cassette tape pictures worn by people who probably never saw a real one 🙂 (just stating a fact, wear whatever you want!)

      Anyway it's partly deceptive:

      this looks fairly old-fashioned:


      ...this not so much 🙂

      Author's profile photo Marcello Urbani
      Marcello Urbani

      Very cool! I'm too lazy to create my own theme, but will definitely check out yours!

      And thanks for the link

      Author's profile photo Tomas Buryanek
      Tomas Buryanek

      There are few on GitHub you can try:
      Frederik now added there his theme too 🙂

      Author's profile photo Syambabu Allu
      Syambabu Allu

      Good tip..Surely I will try this.

      Thank you,


      Author's profile photo Bence Szollosi
      Bence Szollosi

      I share my own theme, if anyone interested you can download it.

      Author's profile photo Yuvaraj Shanmugam
      Yuvaraj Shanmugam

      Thanks this looks cool.

      Author's profile photo AMIT GUPTA

      Hello Frederick,

      I tried to put the theme but it is giving me error 'DTD is prohibited' when opening editor in SE38. Any idea what could be the reason ?


      Author's profile photo Frederik Hudak
      Frederik Hudak
      Blog Post Author


      I tried it but I don’t see any errors in SE38. You could try the following:

      • Delete the theme file and download a new one
      • Try other themes to see if the problem persists
      • Maybe the file properties are different on older systems. Compare your old settings with the theme to see if it doesn’t change anything it shouldn’t.