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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

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Comments and Discussions

AnswerRe: wchar_t version? Pin
razvar31-Mar-11 22:49
memberrazvar31-Mar-11 22:49 
Generalwildcmp in XBLite Pin
CodeGibbon27-Nov-08 14:56
memberCodeGibbon27-Nov-08 14:56 
GeneralWildcard string compare in C# Pin
haiquang10-Nov-08 23:15
memberhaiquang10-Nov-08 23:15 
GeneralRe: Wildcard string compare in C# Pin
haiquang3-Aug-09 23:22
memberhaiquang3-Aug-09 23:22 
GeneralC# Direct Port Pin
hempels23-Sep-08 16:10
memberhempels23-Sep-08 16:10 
General...and yet another C# port [modified] Pin
DVF27-Aug-10 17:59
memberDVF27-Aug-10 17:59 
GeneralRe: ...and yet another C# port Pin
VUnreal21-Sep-10 12:22
memberVUnreal21-Sep-10 12:22 
GeneralMessage Removed Pin
stonber18-Sep-08 15:22
memberstonber18-Sep-08 15:22 
GeneralUsing in Artistic Style Pin
jimp023-Apr-08 5:43
memberjimp023-Apr-08 5:43 
I am using this in Artistic Style, a popular multi-platform code formatter available at SourceForge.

Release 1.22 added directory recursion to the project. Wildcard processing was made internal to the program. Linux has a glob function but Windows doesn't. I just used this for both of them. It let me process both platforms in a similar manner.

A minor change was made for Windows to make the comparison case insensitive. Linux was left case sensitive.

Thanks for making it available. Using this was a lot easier than writing my own. I doubt that mine would have been this sophisticated.
GeneralGeez... Pin
larryfr5-Mar-08 10:39
memberlarryfr5-Mar-08 10:39 
QuestionConvert to a replace? Pin
williaps20-Mar-07 9:31
memberwilliaps20-Mar-07 9:31 
GeneralC# RexExp version Pin
spinsane4-Nov-06 7:30
memberspinsane4-Nov-06 7:30 
GeneralKudos Pin
quantumred14-Oct-06 5:37
memberquantumred14-Oct-06 5:37 
GeneralRe: Kudos Pin
milkplus24-Feb-10 12:19
membermilkplus24-Feb-10 12:19 
Generalwildcmp(&quot;*&amp;lt;*&amp;gt;&quot;, &quot;&amp;lt;field1&amp;gt;&amp;lt;field2&amp;gt;&quot;) not working [modified] Pin
Daniel B.6-Sep-06 14:14
memberDaniel B.6-Sep-06 14:14 
GeneralRe: wildcmp(&quot;*&amp;lt;*&amp;gt;&quot;, &quot;&amp;lt;field1&amp;gt;&amp;lt;field2&amp;gt;&quot;) not working Pin
radboudp16-Feb-07 1:35
memberradboudp16-Feb-07 1:35 
Generalreturn value type Pin
wdx048-Jan-06 16:49
memberwdx048-Jan-06 16:49 
General*? case match Pin
talimu4-Nov-05 0:42
membertalimu4-Nov-05 0:42 
GeneralRe: *? case match Pin
kuhnm15-Sep-06 3:18
memberkuhnm15-Sep-06 3:18 
GeneralRe: *? case match Pin
kuhnm18-Sep-06 5:48
memberkuhnm18-Sep-06 5:48 
GeneralGets my 5 Pin
Franc Morales18-Oct-05 18:05
memberFranc Morales18-Oct-05 18:05 
Generalmp and cp Pin
twopieman15-Mar-05 12:59
membertwopieman15-Mar-05 12:59 
GeneralRe: mp and cp Pin
radboudp16-Feb-07 2:14
memberradboudp16-Feb-07 2:14 
GeneralOK, but ... Pin
Sam Levy16-Feb-05 5:48
memberSam Levy16-Feb-05 5:48 
QuestionWhy make 3 loop ? Pin
DarkYoda Mickael2-Feb-05 23:22
memberDarkYoda Mickael2-Feb-05 23:22 

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