Age dictates cooking time - the fresher the bean are the sooner it will soften. Don't add salt until the beans are cooked. Let them sit in the cooking water to absorb the salt. Overnight soaking is usually recommended for dried beans though Harold McGee doubts that after four hours any change occurs.
Great Northern, Haricot, Navy beans are all small white dried beans that are basically interchangeable.
Canelli beans are similar but bigger.
Red Kidney beans have a stronger taste and hold their shape well.
Lima beans are a large flat bean that tends to cook quite quickly. They are good in salads.
Broad beans are used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking.
Mung beans are small green beans that cook quickly and tend to lose their shape. They are used in Chinese and Middle Eastern cooking.
Borlotti beans are a speckled red and white bean larger and plumper than haricot and with a slightly stronger flavour. They tend to cook slightly faster than haricot.
Black Eyed beans/peas