FTP capability on Dreamhost

The threads “Creating FTP?” and “Add Users” in the beginner’s forum have been super helpful with some of my questions. But I’d like to try and fully understand this subject and make sure (as I think I understand) what I want to do is not currently possible on Dreamhost.

The easiest way for me to explain this is to give an example.

For the directory structure I’d like to have a folder that I’ll call “Master Directory”, containing three folders “Vendors”, “Customers”, and “Archives”. In the “Vendor” folder I would like to have folders “Vendor A”, “Vendor B”, and “Vendor C”. In “Customers” folder I would like to have “Customer A”, “Customer B”, and “Customer C”.

For the user structure I would like to have unique logins and user names for each “customer” and each “vendor” that will only give them access to their respective folder and no others (Customer A login directs access to only Customer A folder). And then there would need to be an “administrator” login which would have access to all of these folders, and the only login which would have access to the “archives” folder.

As for permissions, some of these “vendors” and “customers” would need to have different levels of access, some would only need download capability, and others would need download and upload capability.

Am I crazy thinking that I can teach myself how to do this? Is this even possible on Dreamhost? If not, then where would I have to go to do this? Are there other alternatives (the end users are not be super technical people)?

You guys are all amazing and I appreciate so much your help and time!!

Creating the folders is the easy part. Permissions should be able to be done using ht access file for each folder.I am not sure on all the details as I have not done this myself yet. But from what I have read, the ht access file contains a list of user names and passwords, So theoretically an administrator would have his/her name and password in all folders. The owner of the account is suppose to always have access to all folders.
As far as upload/download files, this would better be done in php. This language will change permissions for folders, create an upload form handling routine, set cookies, etc. So this language would be right up your alley for what you need. Using php it is not neccessary to use ht access files, since php can handle permissions.
Another option is to use webdav, I am not sure if this uses ht access as well or not, but is provides a secure access to ftp which would allow users with permission to upload and download files. You could create seperate folders one for users that have full access to a folder and another folder that has write permission disabled. This can be done by changing the properties of the folder (ch-mod).
So there are several ways to accomplish what you need, it is just finding the way that works for you.