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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.

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
Jack Handy22-Mar-02 23:26
memberJack Handy22-Mar-02 23:26 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Hockey19-Apr-03 10:25
memberHockey19-Apr-03 10:25 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
douglashogan25-Jan-04 13:34
memberdouglashogan25-Jan-04 13:34 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy25-Jan-04 13:40
memberJack Handy25-Jan-04 13:40 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
douglashogan25-Jan-04 13:50
memberdouglashogan25-Jan-04 13:50 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jim Bob22-Mar-02 16:29
memberJim Bob22-Mar-02 16:29 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Simon Capewell22-May-02 3:48
memberSimon Capewell22-May-02 3:48 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Targys8-Jan-03 2:57
memberTargys8-Jan-03 2:57 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
The C++ Guru24-Feb-03 11:43
sussThe C++ Guru24-Feb-03 11:43 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy24-Feb-03 17:52
memberJack Handy24-Feb-03 17:52 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
hector santos1-Mar-03 2:49
memberhector santos1-Mar-03 2:49 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Kent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 6:26
sussKent C. Dorner2-Mar-03 6:26 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
hector santos2-Mar-03 11:05
memberhector santos2-Mar-03 11:05 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy2-Jun-03 14:56
memberJack Handy2-Jun-03 14:56 
Kent C. Dorner wrote:
Jack's code would not stand a minute of our code reviews.

I suggest that your "large programmer team" stick to Java. I would be happy to see your team come up with something better. Keep in mind that no matter what your wife might say, performance does matter.


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

GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Anonymous2-Jun-03 15:48
sussAnonymous2-Jun-03 15:48 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Anonymous4-Dec-03 19:29
sussAnonymous4-Dec-03 19:29 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
olegxxx4-Mar-05 20:24
memberolegxxx4-Mar-05 20:24 
GeneralSweet! Pin
EpicBoy1-Feb-02 17:08
memberEpicBoy1-Feb-02 17:08 
GeneralRe: Sweet! Pin
Michael Dunn1-Feb-02 18:10
memberMichael Dunn1-Feb-02 18:10 
GeneralRe: Sweet! Pin
Steve Mallam13-May-02 1:29
memberSteve Mallam13-May-02 1:29 
GeneralI found this very useful. Pin
Todd Smith4-Jan-02 15:40
memberTodd Smith4-Jan-02 15:40 
GeneralTest Cases Pin
Paul McGuire4-Dec-01 13:00
memberPaul McGuire4-Dec-01 13:00 
GeneralRe: Test Cases Pin
Lee Elenbaas10-Sep-08 0:05
memberLee Elenbaas10-Sep-08 0:05 
GeneralSuper fast code - super, but... Pin
Rene Rassnitzer23-Aug-01 7:24
memberRene Rassnitzer23-Aug-01 7:24 
GeneralGreat Code Pin
mediamaster404-Jul-01 21:18
membermediamaster404-Jul-01 21:18 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
Anonymous5-Jul-01 11:24
memberAnonymous5-Jul-01 11:24 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
siukurnin4-Jul-02 3:15
membersiukurnin4-Jul-02 3:15 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
The C++ Guru8-Sep-02 8:22
sussThe C++ Guru8-Sep-02 8:22 
GeneralRe: Great Code Pin
Anonymous4-Dec-03 19:53
sussAnonymous4-Dec-03 19:53 
Generalwildcmp("fold","??*"); Pin
Vadim Chavarha24-May-01 9:43
memberVadim Chavarha24-May-01 9:43 
GeneralRe: wildcmp( Pin
Jack Handy29-May-01 11:01
memberJack Handy29-May-01 11:01 
GeneralNot DOS compatible Pin
Miroslav Rajcic2-May-01 4:56
memberMiroslav Rajcic2-May-01 4:56 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible Pin
Jack Handy2-May-01 13:03
memberJack Handy2-May-01 13:03 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible Pin
Miroslav Rajcic7-May-01 0:04
memberMiroslav Rajcic7-May-01 0:04 
GeneralDOS compatible workaround Pin
Fredrik Wangel5-Jul-01 2:47
memberFredrik Wangel5-Jul-01 2:47 
GeneralRe: Not DOS compatible Pin
W2k27-Dec-02 14:26
memberW2k27-Dec-02 14:26 
QuestionWhy, oh why only? Pin
Anonymous2-May-01 3:17
memberAnonymous2-May-01 3:17 
AnswerRe: Why, oh why only? Pin
Simon Capewell2-May-01 3:39
memberSimon Capewell2-May-01 3:39 
GeneralRe: Why, oh why only? Pin
Anonymous5-Jul-01 11:27
memberAnonymous5-Jul-01 11:27 
AnswerRe: Why, oh why only? Pin
Paul McGuire4-Dec-01 5:18
memberPaul McGuire4-Dec-01 5:18 

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