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I have an MSM setup where the primary site is the "main" site in EE and the subdomains are all sub-sites in EE. I have built out the primary navigation in the main site, but I don't know a good way to keep the primary domain as the first segment when needed.

So in all of my sub-domain sites, I use the following:

{embed="main_site:includes/.nav_main"}

And in that .nav_main, I have this:

<!-- HOME -->
    <li><a href="{site_url}">Home</a></li>
<!-- HOME -->

That reads different on each sub-domain because they are all a "site". Some of the sub-domains will have their own navigational elements so {site_url} works fine for them when/if I needed to use it.

It would be nice to be able to do something like:

{site_url:site_name} or {msm:site_name:site_url}

Is there a plug-in, add-on, or native functionality I am missing?

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Your best bet is to hold this URL via a global variable defined inside of your config file (as standard user-defined global variables will be scoped to each site).

Or to get fancier, use Low Variables, which will may help you elsewhere in your site build as well.

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