Download VS2017 here: https://www.visualstudio.com/downloads/
There are versions for Windows and macOS (but I don't think you can debug FreeCAD macros on the mac version). I'm using the free community edition for Windows.
Download and run the installer. I selected every python option I could find in the installer because I wasn't sure which, if any, would be needed. I presume at least the ability to do python projects would be required.
Once you get VS2017 installed, debugging FreeCAD macros is as simple as loading the macro in VS2017, attaching the debugger to FreeCAD.exe, setting up your breakpoints (in VS2017, not in FreeCAD), and executing the macro in FreeCAD as you would normally execute it.
You will need to add a .py extension to the macro in order for VS2017 to recognize it as a python source file. It will still work in FreeCAD with the .py extension, (e.g. MyMacro.FCMacro becomes MyMacro.FCMacro.py).
Create this macro and name it test.FCMacro.py:
Open the file in VS2017 and add a breakpoint on the last line: Part.show(box).
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import FreeCAD import Part x,y,z = 3,5,7 box = Part.makeBox(x,y,z) Part.show(box)
Open FreeCAD if it's not already running.
In the debug menu in VS2017, select Attach to Process...
In the Attach To: section select Python as the type of code to debug.
Find FreeCAD.exe in the list of running processes and click Attach.
Execute the macro in FreeCAD as you would normally execute it. Macro -> Macros -> testFCMacro.py -> Execute. (Don't choose debug, choose execute.)
If all goes well you should be in the VS2017 debugger with a screen similar to this one:
If it doesn't work (or if it stops working) try restarting FreeCAD and re-attaching.
In the Debug -> Windows menu you will find options to bring up the various windows. I have found locals, autos, watch1, and the Immediate Window to be useful.
The locals window gives the most objects.
The autos window narrows down the list to focus on the ones you're most likely to be interested in.
In the watch1 window you can specify only those objects you're interested in.
The Immediate window can be used to modify values on the fly, call a function, etc.
Here is a screenshot of the autos window:
In the Watch1 window you can browse FreeCAD objects. For example, here I've entered:
as a watch.
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This is a good way to browse to see which properties and methods are available, or at least some of them.
The VS2017 editor has some nice features. It can, for example, comment out (or uncomment) an entire block of selected code. (Ctrl+k,c to comment, Ctrl+k,u to uncomment). It can indent / unindent blocks of selected code: Edit -> Advanced -> Increase Line indent. Set a bookmark in your file: Ctrl+k,k. Navigate to next bookmark: Ctrl+k,n (or Ctrl+k,p for the previous bookmark). Another nifty feature is an ability to rename an object and have all references updated to the new name. For example, highlight the word box in the 2nd line, and do Ctrl+r, Ctrl+r (do it twice). Give box a new name called newBox and hit ok. It not only renames box to newBox, but it also updates the reference to box in the next line: Part.show(box) becomes Part.show(newBox). Ctrl+f to open a find dialog. Ctrl+h for a find and replace dialog.