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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

GeneralRe: Case Insensitive wildcmp Pin
f_randy12-Jun-06 19:13
memberf_randy12-Jun-06 19:13 
GeneralExcellent code! Pin
Hans Dietrich16-Jul-03 20:40
memberHans Dietrich16-Jul-03 20:40 
Generalchecking for null Pin
Jack Handy13-Mar-03 21:38
memberJack Handy13-Mar-03 21:38 
GeneralRe: checking for null Pin
Anonymous15-Mar-03 21:10
sussAnonymous15-Mar-03 21:10 
GeneralRe: checking for null Pin
Jack Handy18-Mar-03 14:25
memberJack Handy18-Mar-03 14:25 
Generalgreat code, but ... Pin
Anonymous12-Mar-03 4:17
sussAnonymous12-Mar-03 4:17 
GeneralRe: great code, but ... Pin
Jack Handy13-Mar-03 21:34
memberJack Handy13-Mar-03 21:34 
GeneralRe: great code, but ... Pin
Anonymous15-Mar-03 21:08
sussAnonymous15-Mar-03 21:08 
You're right, it is not a bug in functionality,
but when I debugged it I saw that
for the above input, the line:
string = cp++;
causes cp to point one place beyond the string array bounds.
(When string points to the last char 'b', cp points to \0.
On the next iteration, string will be advanced to point to \0,
and cp will be advanced to point to one place after the \0).
Although it is not critical,I thought it is worth fixing.

GeneralRe: great code, but ... Pin
Jack Handy18-Mar-03 14:25
memberJack Handy18-Mar-03 14:25 
GeneralRe: great code, but ... Pin
Anonymous20-Mar-03 0:13
sussAnonymous20-Mar-03 0:13 
GeneralNice Pin
Chris Richardson16-Jan-03 11:58
memberChris Richardson16-Jan-03 11:58 
GeneralRe: Nice Pin
Jack Handy20-Jan-03 12:56
memberJack Handy20-Jan-03 12:56 
GeneralCool Code Pin
Anonymous6-Dec-02 12:09
sussAnonymous6-Dec-02 12:09 
GeneralRe: Cool Code Pin
hector santos1-Mar-03 2:53
memberhector santos1-Mar-03 2:53 
GeneralRe: Cool Code Pin
Kent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 6:32
sussKent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 6:32 
GeneralRe: Cool Code Pin
gebrudergrimm28-Dec-03 11:18
membergebrudergrimm28-Dec-03 11:18 
GeneralRe: Cool Code Pin
BrcKcc15-Jun-04 9:18
memberBrcKcc15-Jun-04 9:18 
GeneralYes man - you a really cool developer Pin
Stanislav Panasik23-Oct-02 20:06
memberStanislav Panasik23-Oct-02 20:06 
GeneralRe: Yes man - you a really cool developer Pin
Anonymous28-Mar-04 14:43
sussAnonymous28-Mar-04 14:43 
GeneralPseudo Code... Pin
blahblah18-Apr-02 11:45
memberblahblah18-Apr-02 11:45 
GeneralRe: Pseudo Code... Pin
Targys8-Jan-03 3:43
memberTargys8-Jan-03 3:43 
Generaltoo complicated Pin
The C++ Guru21-Mar-02 22:31
memberThe C++ Guru21-Mar-02 22:31 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Big Spender22-Mar-02 1:23
memberBig Spender22-Mar-02 1:23 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
The C++ Guru22-Mar-02 1:34
memberThe C++ Guru22-Mar-02 1:34 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy22-Mar-02 16:23
memberJack Handy22-Mar-02 16:23 

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