I have been using and customizing a couple of Gallery2 installations at work and in my personal life. I have to say that I am extremely impressed at how advanced and powerful the application really is.
The installer is probably the easiest (besides WordPress) installation I’ve ever performed. All I had to do was download a small starter package, add a password and upload it to the correct directory. From there, the installer transferred all of the necessary files from Gallery’s server over to mine and gave me very explicit instructions on how to configure all of the settings.
There are so many plugins available for Gallery, and most of them are selectable during the installation phase.
The application offers extremely versatile user management, allowing you to lockdown registration altogether, allow users to register and create their own photo galleries, comment on your photo galleries and everything in between.
I honestly cannot believe how easy it is to add photographs to the Gallery installation. Provided you have the correct plugins installed and configured, you can upload files to your server and import them from there, you can import files from another server, you can use a Java applet to upload files from your computer, you can use a Picasa cache file to upload a Picasa album and you can even upload files to your Gallery installation directly within your file manager of choice; on Windows XP, you can install a registry entry to “publish” the photos from directly within Windows Explorer, and within *nix boxes (and, I’m assuming, on Windows computers, too), you can mount the Gallery itself directly as a network drive.
With Gallery2, you can easily tag all of your photos with keywords, descriptions, captions and more. In addition, if you edit the photo’s metadata directly, Gallery is fully capable of picking up that information and using it within your albums.
Gallery2 comes with a handful of templates available at the time of installation. Most of them are fairly nice. In addition, there is a template gallery where you can test and download additional themes for the installation.
In the beginning, the template system can be a little daunting and confusing to customize. However, once you delve into the templates a bit, you will probably find that they are actually very versatile and easily customizable. With the right documentation in your arsenal, you can really do some amazing things with the Gallery templates, most of which use the Smarty template system.
Some other features I really like in Gallery2 include the ability to dynamically watermark your photographs, the ability to dynamically resize all of your photos and the ability (with the right software installed on your server) to capture screenshots from PDF files.
There are also plugins for commerce applications, printing services and more.
The installation and customization of the Gallery installation really relies heavily upon the specific software packages you have installed on your server and the plugins you choose to install and configure. However, with the right items put together, Gallery is almost as versatile (if not more) than many desktop applications.
As far as Web-based, standalone applications go, I cannot speak highly enough about Gallery2. I would give the software 4.5 out of 5 stars, if I were to rate it. The only reason I wouldn’t rate it higher is simply because of its dependence on server software (which is basically unavoidable when offering so much power, and they do a good job of offering a few different options), and the fact that there is one specific feature I would like to see that I have not yet been able to find (directly linking to a download file from the thumbnail, rather than having to navigate to the blank screenshot of the item, then clicking a download link there).