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Wildcard string compare (globbing)

, 15 Feb 2005 823.6K 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;


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.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Jack Handy
Web Developer
United States United States
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
The C++ Guru22-Mar-02 21:40
memberThe C++ Guru22-Mar-02 21:40 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy22-Mar-02 22:26
memberJack Handy22-Mar-02 22:26 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Hockey19-Apr-03 9:25
memberHockey19-Apr-03 9:25 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
douglashogan25-Jan-04 12:34
memberdouglashogan25-Jan-04 12:34 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy25-Jan-04 12:40
memberJack Handy25-Jan-04 12:40 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
douglashogan25-Jan-04 12:50
memberdouglashogan25-Jan-04 12:50 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jim Bob22-Mar-02 15:29
memberJim Bob22-Mar-02 15:29 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Simon Capewell22-May-02 2:48
memberSimon Capewell22-May-02 2:48 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Targys8-Jan-03 1:57
memberTargys8-Jan-03 1:57 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
The C++ Guru24-Feb-03 10:43
sussThe C++ Guru24-Feb-03 10:43 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy24-Feb-03 16:52
memberJack Handy24-Feb-03 16:52 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
hector santos1-Mar-03 1:49
memberhector santos1-Mar-03 1:49 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Kent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 5:26
sussKent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 5:26 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
hector santos2-Mar-03 10:05
memberhector santos2-Mar-03 10:05 
Personally, I agree. I believe Jack's code is more readible. I tend to look for look for logic that looks for recursion.

Correct, both codes do not check for nulls.

[SIDE NOTE] I've been involved in hundreds of corporate development projects. I lead many of them before eventually leaving to start my own company. IMO, it depends on the "large team" make up. If you include non-trained (no where else to put them) programmers in the loop, sure, its harder for them to read code. But then again, they shouldn't be part of the "tools development" group. They are usually not expected to have input in the matter. However, I would suggest that they would be the first to find the bug by accidently introducing NULLs. Smile | :)

In general, tools are usually designed by trained computer scientist. Applications development uses them. Nonetheless, in the new world of IDEs and Component Engineering, many of these disciplines are merged (good or bad) even to the extend that you don't need an "official education" (whatever that means) in computer coding techniques.

Hector Santos, CTO
Santronics Software, Inc.
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy2-Jun-03 13:56
memberJack Handy2-Jun-03 13:56 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Anonymous2-Jun-03 14:48
sussAnonymous2-Jun-03 14:48 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Anonymous4-Dec-03 18:29
sussAnonymous4-Dec-03 18:29 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
olegxxx4-Mar-05 19:24
memberolegxxx4-Mar-05 19:24 
GeneralSweet! Pin
EpicBoy1-Feb-02 16:08
memberEpicBoy1-Feb-02 16:08 
GeneralRe: Sweet! Pin
Michael Dunn1-Feb-02 17:10
memberMichael Dunn1-Feb-02 17:10 
GeneralRe: Sweet! Pin
Steve Mallam13-May-02 0:29
memberSteve Mallam13-May-02 0:29 
GeneralI found this very useful. Pin
Todd Smith4-Jan-02 14:40
memberTodd Smith4-Jan-02 14:40 
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 
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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