In my opinion, The Server Option and Variable Reference at http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.5/en/mysqld-option-tables.html rates as my most important page. This is a consolidated index that enables a drill down to the Server Command Options, System Variables, Startup and replication specifics, as well as important information on default values and differences between versions including point releases.
However, there is another page not in the actual manual, but at http://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysqld-version-reference/en/mysqld-version-reference-optvar.html which is an Options/Variables reference akin to the Reference Manual, but includes a 5.x version matrix.
Recently I was asked about some options that had to be removed from an upgrade to MySQL 5.5. Some of these were obvious, however not all. This page enabled me to confirm deprecation (as expected), and also point to important reference material.
These options where:
The use of table_type was a 3.x/4.x relic, replaced with engine, so I was surprised this option was still even valid. The option replaced with default_storage_engine. The page defined this as deprecated in MySQL 5.0
log_long_format is also old, and definitely modified since MySQL 5.1 with the general_log_xxx options. In fact this has been deprecated since 4.1
I have never liked the master-xxx options, in favor of a CHANGE MASTER command and synchronization issues with the master.info file and master-xx options. master-connect-retry and several other options were deprecated in 5.1.17. On a side note, if you look at this option in the MySQL 5.5 Reference Manual you get Obsolete options. The following options are removed in MySQL 5.5. If you attempt to start mysqld with any of these options in MySQL 5.5, the server aborts with an unknown variable error. To set the replication parameters formerly associated with these options, you must use the CHANGE MASTER TO … statement (see Section 220.127.116.11, “CHANGE MASTER TO Syntax”).
Finally default-character-set. Initially I thought that is definitely still applicable, however the handy cross reference reminded me, this is also deprecated in MySQL 5.0 and the Reference Manual again stating default-character-set is also deprecated in 5.0 in favor of character-set-server.. The name has simply changed in newer version.
With so many options and as a consultant I work with many different versions each week, I sometimes need a refresher of the changes in the versions of the past 5 years. Definitely my second most important page.
If you have a favorite page, please let me know.
I would also like to say thank you to the Oracle/MySQL Documentation team that do a great job in providing an excellent resource to an open source product. We would all do well to appreciate this in comparison to other open source documentation in companion technologies and related tools. With every new release of a MySQL product you don’t realize that somebody reviewed, tested and wrote about features without receive the limelight.