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Wildcard string compare (globbing)

, 15 Feb 2005 823.7K 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

GeneralMany thanks, with 1 small gripe .. Pin
David Patrick29-Sep-04 8:41
memberDavid Patrick29-Sep-04 8:41 
GeneralRe: Many thanks, with 1 small gripe .. Pin
Jack Handy6-Oct-04 8:13
memberJack Handy6-Oct-04 8:13 
David Patrick wrote:
most C compare functions return zero when the values are equal, but this function returns non-zero.

You make a good point. I probably should have made it behave like the strcmp() type functions. I'm a bit afraid to change it at this point since it has been posted for so long. It should be an easy fix for you or anyone else who is used to C style string comparisons. The C++ people here probably like the current behavior I would imagine.


There are 10 types of people in this world, those that understand binary and those who don't.

GeneralRe: Many thanks, with 1 small gripe .. Pin
Vic Mackey16-Oct-04 19:33
memberVic Mackey16-Oct-04 19:33 
GeneralRe: Many thanks, with 1 small gripe .. Pin
Voja Intermajstor24-Nov-04 23:26
memberVoja Intermajstor24-Nov-04 23:26 

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