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Posted 1 May 2001


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Wildcard string compare (globbing)

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4.90/5 (82 votes)
15 Feb 2005
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

Comments and Discussions

GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
22-Mar-02 1:34
suss22-Mar-02 1:34 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy22-Mar-02 16:23
MemberJack Handy22-Mar-02 16:23 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
22-Mar-02 22:40
suss22-Mar-02 22:40 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Jack Handy22-Mar-02 23:26
MemberJack Handy22-Mar-02 23:26 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
alex.barylski19-Apr-03 10:25
Memberalex.barylski19-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 
It is just clearer to use C++ gurus style. I take a lot of code from code project and am very grateful for it. With most of the classes i have to make some modification or other as I am writing a commercial application which often requires tweaks. I need wildcard matching in a number of places but maybe a little more than * and ?. Therefore, the first thing i considered was how i could add extra tokens. It appears at a glance that c++ gurus code is easier to grasp.

I understand pointer arithmethic just fine, and i believe the claim that your code is twice as fast. It is more important for me to have bug free code as wildcard comparison functionality is carried out on a very small scale in my application. Any bugs are headaches. I am firmly a c/c++ devotee and hate all the luggage that comes with .NET, VB, etc. But we can have a small tradeoff for readability in the general case. Why give those guys ammunition for their 'C/C++ code is unreadable and only hacks use it' argument?

No offense but i will use the gurus code because i have my reasons. It is not fair to blindly knock it though.

anyway, it is better you submitted this article than no article.

cheers Blush | :O

GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
22-Mar-02 16:29
suss22-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 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Anonymous2-Jun-03 15:48
MemberAnonymous2-Jun-03 15:48 
GeneralRe: too complicated Pin
Anonymous4-Dec-03 19:29
MemberAnonymous4-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
sitebuilderMichael Dunn1-Feb-02 18:10 
GeneralRe: Sweet! Pin
13-May-02 1:29
suss13-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 

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