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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;


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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

GeneralTest Cases Pin
Paul McGuire4-Dec-01 12:00
memberPaul McGuire4-Dec-01 12:00 
GeneralRe: Test Cases Pin
Lee Elenbaas9-Sep-08 23:05
memberLee Elenbaas9-Sep-08 23:05 
GeneralSuper fast code - super, but... Pin
Rene Rassnitzer23-Aug-01 6:24
memberRene Rassnitzer23-Aug-01 6:24 
GeneralGreat Code Pin
mediamaster404-Jul-01 20:18
membermediamaster404-Jul-01 20:18 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
Anonymous5-Jul-01 10:24
memberAnonymous5-Jul-01 10:24 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
siukurnin4-Jul-02 2:15
membersiukurnin4-Jul-02 2:15 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
The C++ Guru8-Sep-02 7:22
sussThe C++ Guru8-Sep-02 7:22 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
Anonymous4-Dec-03 18:53
sussAnonymous4-Dec-03 18:53 
Generalwildcmp("fold","??*"); Pin
Vadim Chavarha24-May-01 8:43
memberVadim Chavarha24-May-01 8:43 
GeneralRe: wildcmp( Pin
Jack Handy29-May-01 10:01
memberJack Handy29-May-01 10:01 
GeneralNot DOS compatible Pin
Miroslav Rajcic2-May-01 3:56
memberMiroslav Rajcic2-May-01 3:56 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible Pin
Jack Handy2-May-01 12:03
memberJack Handy2-May-01 12:03 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible Pin
Miroslav Rajcic6-May-01 23:04
memberMiroslav Rajcic6-May-01 23:04 
GeneralDOS compatible workaround Pin
Fredrik Wangel5-Jul-01 1:47
memberFredrik Wangel5-Jul-01 1:47 
I stumbled upon this thread looking for something completely different, but noticed that someone needed a little help Big Grin | :-D

The easiest way to make the function compatible with DOS patterns without breaking the intended functionallity of the wildcmp() function is to simply add a wrapper function that adds a dot character at the end of strings that do not already have a dot and then call the wildcmp() function.

Please note: This is a very simple 'hack', but serves it purpose well. The STL string class offers so much more security than plain old char pointers, but that was just a side-note Smile | :)

int doswildcmp(char *wild, char *string) {
	if ( 0 == strstr( string, "." ) ) {
		char *newstring = ( char* )malloc( strlen( string ) + 2 );
		strcpy( newstring, string );
		strcat( newstring, "." );
		int result = wildcmp( wild, newstring );
		free( newstring );
		return result;
	else return wildcmp( wild, string );
Fredrik Wangel
Top Node Development AB
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible Pin
W2k27-Dec-02 13:26
memberW2k27-Dec-02 13:26 
QuestionWhy, oh why only? Pin
Anonymous2-May-01 2:17
memberAnonymous2-May-01 2:17 
AnswerRe: Why, oh why only? Pin
Simon Capewell2-May-01 2:39
memberSimon Capewell2-May-01 2:39 
GeneralRe: Why, oh why only? Pin
Anonymous5-Jul-01 10:27
memberAnonymous5-Jul-01 10:27 
AnswerRe: Why, oh why only? Pin
Paul McGuire4-Dec-01 4:18
memberPaul McGuire4-Dec-01 4:18 

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