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Wildcard string compare (globbing)

, 15 Feb 2005 823.3K 94
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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;


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About the Author

Jack Handy
Web Developer
United States United States
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralSlight efficiency improvement Pin
Bill Buklis9-Jul-04 6:53
memberBill Buklis9-Jul-04 6:53 
GeneralRe: Slight efficiency improvement Pin
Bill Buklis9-Jul-04 7:19
memberBill Buklis9-Jul-04 7:19 
Maybe I posted too soon. I didn't think there was a way for cp to not equal string+1. But, after thinking about it some more I found a pattern type that would:


It's interesting how the loop keeps shifting back and forth with this type of pattern.

However, using a test string of "testing" with the above pattern the match still failed (correctly) using both algorithms. But, there easily may be a pattern and string combination that wouldn't work without cp.

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