This translates your sample input to
(joule / (meter ^ 2)).
I've often toyed with the idea of writing a strictly lexical translator that would allow transformations to be expressed in a less redundant, more human friendly syntax.
Yes. Please do. I am of the firm opinion that any format that is entirely ASCII or Unicode should be human-readable, and just the right balance between terseness and verbosity to make it human-editable.
Not every XML application is quite so bloated, but this one is a good example of what makes people reject XML. This is exactly the same situation where over-clever over-crammed Perl code turns people off of the whole Perl language.
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]