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Wildcard string compare (globbing)

, 15 Feb 2005
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Matches a string against a wildcard string such as "*.*" or "bl?h.*" etc. This is good for file globbing or to match hostmasks.


This is a fast, lightweight, and simple pattern matching function.

if (wildcmp("bl?h.*", "blah.jpg")) {
  //we have a match!
} else {
  //no match =(


int wildcmp(const char *wild, const char *string) {
  // Written by Jack Handy - <A href=""></A>
  const char *cp = NULL, *mp = NULL;

  while ((*string) && (*wild != '*')) {
    if ((*wild != *string) && (*wild != '?')) {
      return 0;

  while (*string) {
    if (*wild == '*') {
      if (!*++wild) {
        return 1;
      mp = wild;
      cp = string+1;
    } else if ((*wild == *string) || (*wild == '?')) {
    } else {
      wild = mp;
      string = cp++;

  while (*wild == '*') {
  return !*wild;


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Jack Handy
Web Developer
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

GeneralRe: too complicated PinsussThe C++ Guru24-Feb-03 10:43 
GeneralRe: too complicated PinmemberJack Handy24-Feb-03 16:52 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pinmemberhector santos1-Mar-03 1:49 
GeneralRe: too complicated PinsussKent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 5:26 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pinmemberhector santos2-Mar-03 10:05 
GeneralRe: too complicated PinmemberJack Handy2-Jun-03 13:56 
GeneralRe: too complicated PinsussAnonymous2-Jun-03 14:48 
GeneralRe: too complicated PinsussAnonymous4-Dec-03 18:29 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pinmemberolegxxx4-Mar-05 19:24 
GeneralSweet! PinmemberEpicBoy1-Feb-02 16:08 
GeneralRe: Sweet! PinmemberMichael Dunn1-Feb-02 17:10 
GeneralRe: Sweet! PinmemberSteve Mallam13-May-02 0:29 
GeneralI found this very useful. PinmemberTodd Smith4-Jan-02 14:40 
GeneralTest Cases PinmemberPaul McGuire4-Dec-01 12:00 
I ran the following test cases through wildcmp, all successful. (The test() function compares the pattern to the input string, and compares against the expected result).
test( "", "", true );
test( "*", "", true );
test( "*", "A", true );
test( "", "A", false );
test( "A*", "", false );
test( "A*", "AAB", true );
test( "A*", "BAA", false );
test( "A*", "A", true );
test( "A*B", "", false );
test( "A*B", "AAB", true );
test( "A*B", "AB", true );
test( "A*B", "AABA", false );
test( "A*B", "ABAB", true );
test( "A*B", "ABBBB", true );
test( "A*B*C", "", false );
test( "A*B*C", "ABC", true );
test( "A*B*C", "ABCC", true );
test( "A*B*C", "ABBBC", true );
test( "A*B*C", "ABBBBCCCC", true );
test( "A*B*C", "ABCBBBCBCCCBCBCCCC", true );
test( "A*B*", "AB", true );
test( "A*B*", "AABA", true );
test( "A*B*", "ABAB", true );
test( "A*B*", "ABBBB", true );
test( "A*B*C*", "", false );
test( "A*B*C*", "ABC", true );
test( "A*B*C*", "ABCC", true );
test( "A*B*C*", "ABBBC", true );
test( "A*B*C*", "ABBBBCCCC", true );
test( "A*B*C*", "ABCBBBCBCCCBCBCCCC", true );
test( "A?", "AAB", false );
test( "A?B", "AAB", true );
test( "A?*", "A", false );
test( "A?*", "ABBCC", true );
test( "A?*", "BAA", false );

Paul McGuire
KLA-Tencor/Process Analysis & Control Division
Austin, TX
GeneralRe: Test Cases PinmemberLee Elenbaas9-Sep-08 23:05 
GeneralSuper fast code - super, but... PinmemberRene Rassnitzer23-Aug-01 6:24 
GeneralGreat Code Pinmembermediamaster404-Jul-01 20:18 
GeneralRe: Great Code PinmemberAnonymous5-Jul-01 10:24 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pinmembersiukurnin4-Jul-02 2:15 
GeneralRe: Great Code PinsussThe C++ Guru8-Sep-02 7:22 
GeneralRe: Great Code PinsussAnonymous4-Dec-03 18:53 
Generalwildcmp("fold","??*"); PinmemberVadim Chavarha24-May-01 8:43 
GeneralRe: wildcmp( PinmemberJack Handy29-May-01 10:01 
GeneralNot DOS compatible PinmemberMiroslav Rajcic2-May-01 3:56 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible PinmemberJack Handy2-May-01 12:03 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible PinmemberMiroslav Rajcic6-May-01 23:04 
GeneralDOS compatible workaround PinmemberFredrik Wangel5-Jul-01 1:47 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible PinmemberW2k27-Dec-02 13:26 
QuestionWhy, oh why only? PinmemberAnonymous2-May-01 2:17 
AnswerRe: Why, oh why only? PinmemberSimon Capewell2-May-01 2:39 
GeneralRe: Why, oh why only? PinmemberAnonymous5-Jul-01 10:27 
AnswerRe: Why, oh why only? PinmemberPaul McGuire4-Dec-01 4:18 

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