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Posted 1 May 2001

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

Suggestionnice algorithm, but with a weakness Pin
senzabandiera7-Oct-16 23:24
membersenzabandiera7-Oct-16 23:24 
I like the simplicity of this algorithm, it solves in few lines the string matching with wildcard.
I noticed a weakness when wild is something like *s and I have a long string (N characters): it takes N iterations to find that the string ends with an s.
Instead in case of wild *s it would be faster to check that the string ends with the character s
Generaldelphi port Pin
vovach77723-Dec-14 3:38
membervovach77723-Dec-14 3:38 
QuestionMy vote of 5+ Pin
Sanmayce29-Nov-13 7:47
memberSanmayce29-Nov-13 7:47 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Franc Morales29-May-13 15:47
memberFranc Morales29-May-13 15:47 
Questionhelp required for wilcard matching * and # Pin
SaimaAsif23-Feb-12 23:56
memberSaimaAsif23-Feb-12 23:56 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Plamen Petrov13-Dec-11 21:37
memberPlamen Petrov13-Dec-11 21:37 
SuggestionModification with '#' as wildcard joker for digits Pin
Thomas Haase25-Sep-11 23:16
memberThomas Haase25-Sep-11 23:16 
QuestionLicence Question Pin
randommark23-Nov-10 0:33
memberrandommark23-Nov-10 0:33 
AnswerAnother C# version, with a twist Pin
tomlev29-Jun-10 14:50
membertomlev29-Jun-10 14:50 
GeneralObscurity Pin
Chuck O'Toole25-Apr-10 18:18
memberChuck O'Toole25-Apr-10 18:18 

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